Saturday, December 31, 2016

A Review of our 2016

You guys know me, I am not the sort who writes Year End Reflections or New Year Resolutions; though I think my previous post could probably be my New Year Resolution for 2017, but I have been reading a handful of fellow mum bloggers on their Year End Reflections posts so I thought "Why not?", and here I am, on the last day of the year, trying to pen down if the year has been good.

So, has 2016 been good to us?  Let's take a trip back Memory Lane starting with,,,

This first half of the year was a rough one for the family due to DinoPapa's health which caused more frictions and arguments than before.  There are only 3 of us in the family but we are 3 hot headed ones and not one that will back down easily.  Well, people learn through time and mistakes and frankly how long can one stay angry and bitter?  I know I can't, those difficult months just made me become more tolerant and patient with both DinoPapa and DinoBoy.  For a person who is direct and quick temper, I will never thought of holding back my tongue and look the other way instead of nitpicking and flaring temper.  I am so glad to say that we managed to iron out the differences and compromised with some issues so there are lesser negative vibes in the house.

I am pretty pleased that I still managed to cook dinner for the family, it probably does not save us much more but food is definitely healthier and tastier.  And you know what?  DinoPapa started to teach DinoBoy culinary skill earlier this year and involved him during the cooking.  This boy is a fast learner and is already a junior homechef already!  Look at his proud and happy look!

As DinoPapa's health improves and he was able to cooked on most days where I come home to hot healthy dinner and loving family.  What a blessing for me!

Here's a glimpse of my instagram photo of our meals under hastag #dinomamakitchen.  Follow us on instagram @din0mama if you haven't done so to salivate on our delicious home cooked meals.

Going into hiatus and hiding for almost 3 years means cutting myself off with many friends, I felt sad to have lose some friends but I didn't want to pick up from where we left off because I was not really nice to some of them at that time and I think they would not feel great to accept me back again.  I was however blessed to have a handful of friends who understood my situation and  stuck by me.  They gave me time to grief and embraced me when I took baby steps out from my hiding.  I am glad that I managed to find time to be with them or include them in my life MORE this year.  I am determined to keep these friends safely tucked in my pocket, never to let them go ever.

This year DinoBoy is in Primary 4, a crucial year as it will determine if he will be going to be in a better class next year.  On top of that, PSLE is in 2 years time which is another part of important education milestone for him.  Even though his academic performance has always been good, I was worried (which parent wont't?) that he will be too confident and slipped up, that will be "too costly" and "too risky" for us.  Therefore I decided to be more involved with his school work, for a mum who is pretty laid back on academic performance I suddenly find myself busy as a bee.

I was also dishing out manageable assignments from assessment books almost daily (almost because some days DinoBoy has supplementary lessons or CCA and will reach home later than usual) and DinoBoy did them with minimum complaint.  I actually shouted HOORAY! every time when DinoBoy finished 1 assessment book because for the past years we can never finish 3/4 of a book as we were not disciplined enough to tackle them diligently.

On top of that I did something that I told myself that I will NEVER do it when the boy just started primary school, I emailed the teachers to check on the boy's performance; both academic and socially, I even sent questions to ask them for help when I am stumped.  I guess this practice will have to stay for the next 2 years, hope I won't end up sending wasapp or text messages to his teachers, that will be totally insane just by thinking about it!

This has been a big part of our life and also a feature in this blog.  Sadly, with DinoBoy in primary school we couldn't just take a day off school to go out to play like before.  Weekends were spent on swimming lessons and lazing at home as most of the time I feel too tired to leave the house after a tiring week long work in the office.  Therefore I make it a point to play till we drop during school term break or holiday.  I am happy that this year we still managed to go out and about, experiencing different type of play and having tremendous fun each and every time.

We visited Art Science Museum for the first time (I know right!) earlier this year and went for 2 art exhibitions, you can read about them here and here.  An eye opening exhibitions even for me!  I am not a fan of great height, but we went MegaZip and "flew" down from 75 meters high, down a distance of 450 meters.  100% adrenaline thrill!

This year we make more than 1 trip to 2 places; the ticket price and experience to these places are huge difference, one cost minimum SGD50 for a child ticket while the other cost SGD3 per pax.

The one that has every parent cringed upon hearing it's name is KIDZANIA!  DinoBoy first visited earlier this year with school and subsequently we went back a few more times.  It is expensive and cost and arm & leg if you have more kids but it is a great place for kids to experience "working life", at the same time learn to manage their "salary", whether to spend them on activities, save them for future visits or purchase items they want from the Department Store before leaving this magical land.  On top of that, you get at least 5 hours of peace and Me Time (even though its constrained in a building) with air con and food. 

The other place where you get to leave the mainland and be in the wilderness is PULAU UBIN,  We visited this island in June 2016 during Pesta Ubin, read about our visit here, had so much fun learning about it's flora and fauna during the Kampung Tour.

This December holiday we went back again for the Chek Jawa Walk (I haven't had time to write about it yet), it was totally different from the Kampung Tour.  We learn about this small part of wetland  and about it's animals and creatures.  You think the kids will complain about the sun, the long walk and whine about "it's boring!" then you are wrong!  There are so many interesting things to keep them occupied.

This year's Pesta Ubin was held over 5 weeks, next year it will be held over longer duration!  More time for us to visit Pulau Ubin and take part in all the activities installed for us!

Our next destination to visit next year will be Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum and to more nature walk with various groups.

Due to my commitment to the family, things has been going real slow in the blog and it seems that it has brought itself to another different kind of niche.

It was supposed to be a parenting blog but that "parenting" took a back seat as I wanted to draw the focus away from DinoBoy.  The social media has changed tremendously in recent years, people are quick to judge and spreading things as fast as wild fire.  I wanted to protect him from unnecessary attention.  Also, I have been writing lesser on school work because it seems that syllabus are constantly changing every couple of years, I thought my post would not be helpful for parents a year or so down the road.  I still share snippets of DinoBoy's school work in instagram so you still get an idea of the work, of course I will gladly answer your queries via facebook PM or email.

Attending media events becomes near impossible since my time revolves mostly around the family, I am also hosting lesser contests or giveaways this year .  With lower than usual production I am so grateful that some of the brands still look to me for collaboration and partnership to review their products or services.

One thing that I am proud of the blog is that I am still writing Foodie Fridays posts, a day; which is on Friday thus the name, where I share either a recipe of a dish we prepared or food review of restaurants/eatery places I visited.  It was as often as I love too but you are not missing out anything much.  These days I will share the dishes we prepared on instagram instead partly because we have been cooking 家常小菜 or simple dishes which are either too simple to justify a blog post or its recipe could be easily found on the web.

I started something new on 2nd half of the year though.  We received invitations to movie premier later half of this year and I decided to try my hands on writing movie reviews.  Not sure if it is informative or helpful though but I really enjoying writing them.  Do let us know if you think we need to make some improvement on this, it is an area still new to me so any suggestions will be welcome~

Not shopping, rather its my online shop - Shop of Curios, selling crochet stuffs handmade by yours truyly.  Its been 2 years since I set up this shop and this year it has been very fruitful, I was given opportunities to crochet something that I not normally make like the Christmas tree, Batman & Star Wars key chains and also to challenge myself to create something without any written pattern on hand  and mostly based on photos, such as the Maneki Neko. Essential Oil cozy, Boxtroll key chain, Jiggly Puffs key chain and Spiderman beanie.

Besides feeling excited that my shop has actually taken off quite well, I am also happy that I was able to strike off an item from my Bucket List.  That is to do something to help the needy, you can read about it here.

Our 2016 New Year Resolution
I don't do this New Year Resolution thing, this could be consider as one since I promised the boy at the end of 2015, that is to take part in more family run & walk in 2016.  We achieved that and went to NINE of them!

A Different Sort of Experience
This year, we had a few First Time experience that was both exciting and interesting.  For me, I was being featured in NTUC Fairprice's Financial Report 2015.

DinoBoy had more opportunities to experience something different, first he went into acting. It was a short film 猪灵媒 by Temasek Polytechnic for their year end project or something. They did not make it very clear to me and I did not ask more.  The shooting took a whole day but DinoBoy only appeared in the film for few seconds, look out for him at 13:19 and 13:32 in the video.

Next he had an opportunity to do a voice over for FRED advertisement, he managed to do it with minimum NGs.

Well, 2016 is defintely better than 2015.  There are regrets but let's not focus on that, let's give attention to all the great things that happened which I am grateful and thankful for each and every moment.   And it is with these thoughts that I will step into the new year.  I hope those around me will feel the same and together we will head off to a better year, making happier memories with family and friends.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Don't Worry, Be Happy? Of course YOU CAN!

A couple of weeks ago, I was listening to a motivational speaker on youtube and she shared a story that speaks of my current mindset which set me free from all my bonds earlier this year.

The short version of the story goes something like this;

One day this motivational speaker was out and saw a cat on a leash, she thought to herself that in the night she will try to set the cat free.  Of course she didn't want to set the cat free but instead longed for it to be free.

As she watched the cat, she noticed that the cat was not really yanking at the end of the leash.  The cat seemed to understand its limit and would run very very fast almost till the end of the leash and would stop, looked around, as if saying to her "I know how long this leash is.".  

Well, the cat certainly has a potential of making itself miserable at the end of the leash but it is not doing that.  She was just superimposing how she would feel if she were the cat on the leash over how the cat feels.

After reading that, let me lead you on to do a little bit of imagination.  First, think about the times you have seen in real life or on tv how a cat behaves when it's caught either on a leash or catch-pole or net.  Do you remember seeing them fighting with fierce hissing, fangs showing and claws drawn?  Not a pleasant sight indeed, especially if you are at the receiving end of the fangs and claws.

Zoom in onto the trapped cat.  Did you notice that the harder the cat fight, the tighter the noose of the leash or catch-pole tighten or it gets more tangled up with the net?  The longer it fight what ever that is restricting its freedom the more tired it gets and eventually feeling exhausted it started to give up the fight AND hope, allowing Fate to creeps in and do whatever it has planned for it . 

Allow that image sink slowly into you.  Now, close your eyes and imagine the leash represents all your problems or stress or issues or dynamics you are facing now... then YOU as the Cat...  The receiving end of the injury caused by the fangs and claws are you loved ones and friends.  What are your thoughts now?

Let's pull your attention back to me for a while, many of you knows that I am facing challenges and stress from the family since late 2012, a few of you know some details and a handful knows the full story but all of you saw my roller coaster rides all these years, the Ups and Downs where there were more Downs than Ups.  There were times where I hit rock bottom and crawled into hiding instead of brushing the dust off myself and brave on.  I was constantly feeling miserable, sad, angry, depressed and it was so bad till I started to detest myself to the point of almost giving up!

I was that trapped Cat.  The key word here is WAS.   I am still that Cat but I do not feel as trapped or hopeless as before.

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Friends who heard my life story or was there as a listening ear & support would often asked me "How can you take in all these stress?", back then I replied to with a dejected sigh "What can I do? Just have to shoulder on and face it."  Now when I hear the same question I'd laughed it off with "Well, I ranted and that's enough for me, what's there to worry?  It will past soon."

I didn't have a change of mindset over a night, it took me almost a year to reach where I am now in a slow and steady pace.  It wasn't easy, not for some one who wallowed in negativeness, sadness and bitterness for years but I learned to let go.  "How?" you asked.  First and foremost, you MUST want to change for the better.  Frankly, 3 years is a long time for a me to feel miserable and yes, if I don't step in to make a change I fear the worse will happen to me.  Secondly know the length of your leash and decide which path you want to go.

It's that simple, just two paths to choose from.

Path #1 You can choose to fight and risk choking yourself to death or pass out with exhaustion, scratching and drawing blood on every one who tried to help you along the way.  

OR Path #2 you can make peace with yourself and do not allow yourself or anyone to make you yank that leash ever again.

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What is the difference?  Well, the "right in your face" obvious different will be for Path #1 you'll probably grow old and die immersed in loneliness (OUCH!  Did I just slapped you with the truth?).  Sure, the problems, the chains and the dynamics will still be there for you to tread through (opps!  Another truth), but the whole process will be less damaging on yourself and those around you if you go down Path #2.  

On top of that, your emotional mindset must change.  Even though you wish to crawl out of that suffocating situation it does you no good if emotionally you still feel lousy.  "How to achieve that?" you'll probably ask again.  Well, it is not a secret method but one that has been floating out there since so long ago.  You have always heard the others said "Wake up in the morning, take time to feel grateful, be happy and you will feel better, the day will be better."  

I take it a notch higher and shout "Be happy, satisfied, appreciative, thankful, grateful and all of that, embrace all those great feeling any time of the day!"

It doesn't matter if you hold that happy thought or embrace that thankful moment for 1 sec or 30mins or a whole day (YAY!), what is more significant is that shift you have created within yourself when that happened.  Remember positive vibes will attract positive things, one happy thought leads to another.  This tiny ripple will cause a chain reaction within you which eventually will manifest you and your thoughts thus giving you strength to face your challenges in a positive self healing happier  way.

YOLO or You Only Live Once, don't let this ONE life become a meaningless/aimless journey.  Don't let misery cloud your eyes, mind and soul, preventing you from seeing the beautiful world and wonderful people around you or let failure stop you from perusing that dream you have.  And really, the problems will still be there if you do not have a final solution to it at that moment there is no point in constantly thinking about them and wishing you are at a different situation/era/space/dimension.

At the end of the day, the Earth still rotates, seasons changed,  people moved on, you may have tackled all your challenges or still trying to work towards that solution to end it, all these becomes a learning paths for you, branded into your memory unable to wipe them out.  Perhaps, one day something prompted you to think about them and when that happened, you can most likely smile to yourself for overcoming them and emerged a better successful YOU.

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Don't be that Cat that kept yanking at the leash, be the Cat that sat at almost the end of the leash enjoying it's freedom, however limited it is.

The year is coming to a close and it's time for New Year's Resolution.  This time, why not just make ONE resolution and vowed to keep it for the next 12 months?  Simply shout at the top of your voice for the world to hear

"I Want To be Happy!".