Sophie turns 9 – The last single digit birthday

Over the years, I’ve stopped blogging about Sophie’s birthday as I recognize that she’s slowly growing to be a young lady and may not want all her personal milestones documented on my blog. But I’m making an exception this year ( with her permission of course) as this will be her last single digit birthday before she’s 10.

Each birthday, we have a few traditions which we still do religiously, like marking her height on the height chart, doing a birthday count down and escaping for a staycation or overseas trip. While I was taking these series of photos, I suggested that she opens her eyes wider as all I see are two lines, but she retorted that her smile is what makes her unique.

 

I’m glad that she’s not allowing anyone to define what beauty has to look like and how body confident she is. I wanted to make sure this is on the blog so she never forgets that she can be her own kind of beautiful too.

The birthday celebration

Even though I was all excited about planning a birthday party for her with a few close friends, she declined having a party as she preferred a cozy celebration with the family.

In reality, I was heartened to hear how much we mean to her as we are the one she ultimately wants to spend her birthday with. No doubt this may change over the years when friends preceded family, but for now I’ll gladly savor these precious birthday memories with her.

We had two celebrations with both sides of the family and one was a combined celebration with my mum-in-law whose birthday is 2 days before Sophie’s at Spice World Hotpot.

Birthday Celebration 1 at Spice World Hotpot

For her actual day celebration on National Day, we had dinner at Scissors Paper Stove and she proves to still be a My Little Pony fan with her choice of cake from Bengawan Solo.

We had a couple of hits and misses for our dishes and the memorable ones were the baby back ribs, spring chicken, beef kebabs and mini burgers.

Happy 9th Birthday to the one who brings sunshine and rainbow wherever she goes!

Even though our family dinner was nothing fancy, I liked that it’s so down to earth and Sophie enjoyed every moment of it with those nearest and dearest to her.

We always joke that she’s one lucky girl to get fireworks on her birthday and every year it just gets grander and grander.

Extended birthday celebration in JB

Since there was a school holiday post National Day, we took a short trip to JB and continued the birthday celebration where she went ice skating as well as the water park in Austin Heights which we’ve been meaning to check out.

We got a shade darker and our tummies probably also got an inch thicker but our hearts are so full celebrating our darling’s birthday.

Thanks for making her birthday so special Doubletree

 

3 hours of ice skating with Daddy at Paradigm Mall in JB

 

As I look back over the years, I see how Sophie has grown to be an independent and confident young lady and her infectious belly loud slaughters always makes me smile. I cherish the time she ambushes me with a kiss and hug just because and feel so bad when I tell her that she’s leaning way too close for comfort or is squeezing my arms so tight it feels like she’s pinching me.

I hope she’ll never outgrows these display of affections for mama and papa or finds them embarrassing when she reaches her teens . It’s endearing to know that we are still her source of security and comfort and may nothing, not even the teenage years, keep her from showering us with affection and us likewise.

Happy 9th birthday darling Sophie. You may be 9, but you’ll always be mine-my baby, my darling, my 宝贝.

 

 

 

Beauty in The Pot at OneKM with children’s playground

There may be countless family-friendly restaurants in Singapore, but Beauty in The Pot just took it up a notch by having an amazing children’s playground within their hotpot restaurant premise.

Children’s playground in Beauty in The Pot, OneKM

Beauty in The Pot’s second and latest outlet at OneKM is the ultimate family restaurant for hotpot lovers with an outdoor children’s playground that caters to kids of all ages.

Sophie was ecstatic to see the 2-storey playground structure with a tunnel slide for older kids which is not a common sight you find in restaurants. She was so excited and even dragged daddy on it for some pre-dinner fun.

I lost count of the number of times she zipped down the slide and the squeals of delight as she said it was so fast and exciting!

For younger kids, there is a separate toddler playground with slides and even a small rock wall. Here they can run free as the ground is covered with thick rubber flooring to cushion any falls.

No kid will miss the bouncy trampoline that’s just too inviting. But the mum in me had to remind Sophie to bounce her heart out before and not after dinner, lest she throws up her meal afterwards.

 

Compared to their earlier outlet on the second level, this new Beauty in The Pot outlet on the third level is much bigger and seats up to 288 diners with 3 private rooms.

Pretty Pink Interior

And can I just take a moment to gush about how much I adore its interior which is in the most pretty shade of pastel pink?

The pink princess theme is inspired by the breath-taking cherry blossoms in spring and even its flooring symbolises cherry blossoms that have fallen on snow-clad land.

Image Credit : Beauty in The Pot

So much love for their pink interior that doesn’t border on being too excessively sweet and I’m sure it’s a hit with most ladies.

I even dressed to the occasion and went in pink with Sophie.

Eat your way to beauty

The highlight of Beauty in The Pot are their nourishing soup bases that promises rich flavours and health benefits. There are six options to choose from – Signature Beauty Collagen Broth (Shark’s Cartilage Soup), Signature Spicy Nourishing Soup (Pork Bone Soup), Herbal Drunken Chicken Broth, Cooling Coconut Broth, Longevity Wild Pine Mushroom Broth (Vegetarian), and Vitamin C Tomato Sweet Corn Broth.

Since this was our first visit, we chose 4 soup bases and I highly recommend the Signature Beauty Collagen. I call this the 吃美美soup base as  more than six hours of hard work go into the making of this dense and collagen-rich soup.

Another is the Herbal Drunken Chicken Broth. Although it’s cooked with a mixture of herbs, the taste is not overwhelming and it taste very nutritious.

We also had the Cooling Coconut Broth, which I find very unique and interesting as it also cooked with spare ribs, chicken, chicken feet and snow fungus. When I fished out the coconut flesh from the soup, it still tasted fresh and sweet!

The last was Sophie’s all-time favourite, Tomato Sweet Corn Broth that was slightly sourish and very appetising and I’m sure it will be a hit with all kids.

We have nothing but praises for all the dishes that evening, from meat to seafood and handmade specialties as they were very fresh and we were impressed by the extensive menu offered as well. But if I had to choose, these are the dishes I’ll order the next time I return.

Signature Homemade Fish Tofu – A must try at Beauty in The Pot

Noteworthy dishes that you must try are the Signature Homemade Fish Tofu ($2/piece) – made with yellowtail fish, soya bean and egg white all blended perfectly to melt in your mouth. Ebiko Prawn Paste ($18.80) shaped out of 100% prawn meat with a juicy crunch.

Fried Beancurd Skin ($4.90/half; $9.80/full) which you can dip into the soup for a few seconds to adsorb the richness of the broth or simply enjoy it crispy.

Their handmade balls were also very tasty and we had the Soft Bone Pork Meatballs ($5.90/ half portion; $10/full) which were very juicy and tender.

 

Don’t forget the condiments bar where you can mix and match your own dips to match your taste buds. And if you want to go for the fail proof choice, you can follow the suggested pairing which can’t go wrong.

Do note that there is a top up of S$3.80 per person to enjoy the condiments and selection of fresh fruits.

At the end of our meal, we enjoyed an iced yuzu slushie in a shotglass to cleanse our palate, just the kind of dessert that I love best.

We enjoyed our meal very much and their service staff were also very attentive to our every needs, coming to top up the various soup bases and even offering to deshell our prawns before cooking. It is evident why the restaurant is so and popular and I can see why many of my friends are huge fans of this place.

Their unique and nourishing soup bases were the star for me and their quality of food were top notch too. If you love hotpot then it’s definitely the place to bring the family, and I’m sure your kids will have a great time at the outdoor playground too.

Night owls will be pleased to know that Beauty in The Pot opens till 3am and if you dine after 10:30pm, you’ll enjoy 20% off too.

 

Beauty in The Pot at OneKM Level 3
11 Tanjong Katong Road
OneKM #03-38
Singapore 437157
Tel: +65 6284 8820
Open daily 11.30am – 3.00am (Last order at 2.15am)

 

 

*A Juggling Mom was invited to Beauty in The Pot at OneKM for this review , however all opinions and photos are my own, unless credited otherwise. 

Why we are happy being a family of three

This post on being a mum of one has been sitting in my draft folder for a while. I’ve always struggled to finish it because part of me feels like once I hit the “publish” button it would be my final “conclusion” and I didn’t want that to happen.

However in the past few months, I’ve slowly grown to accept that Sophie will be our one and only and I’m finally at peace saying that we are contented to be a family of three.

Back when I was having recurring fibroid issues, my gyane had suggested for me to remove my womb if we do not intend to have another child. It’s a decision that I’ve been wrestling with as hubby and I are on different wavelengths about it. While he’s very certain that we will settle for one, I’ve always struggled with feelings of inadequacy; that just because I’m a mum of one, I’m not mum enough.

Stop shaming mums of one

It may sound ludicrous, but whenever I get comments like, “Oh you have JUST one?” It makes me feel that I’m less of a mum compared to other women who have kids outnumbering the adults. I’m sure you can also imagine the well-intended advice that have come my way about how having 2 kids, one boy and one girl, makes a family more complete.

All these talk about Singapore’s falling birth rate is sometimes not by choice but circumstances. And I especially cringe when speakers from the pulpit talk about being fruitful and multiply and singling couples who have one child like it’s a sin…

Though I don’t get it as often now, but when I used to get questions about why don’t we have a second child, I’m so tempted to be rude and snap back, “You think we didn’t want?” and maybe have a mental breakdown in front of them just to get an apology for their rude insensitivity. This has of course never happened, though it is a very tempting thought just to shut them up.

These days, I’m more chill when the same question gets posed and I’m aware some people really don’t mean any harm.

Feeling secure in our decision

Before I reached this decision, I recalled feeling that dreaded sense of finality that was weighing on my decision before my next check-up with the gynae. Late into the night, I would google things like, regrets having one child, wished I had another child, and just cry my eye out as I read accounts of how other women have struggled with fertility issues, what they had to go through to get pregnant and their painful losses. But what made me feel encouraged is how only child love their small families of three and wouldn’t change a thing in the world for their parents undivided attention and affection.

READ ALSO: Remember, You Are Mum Enough

Like all things, time slowly made things clearer and I have come to embrace that we will be a family of three and that’s enough for us.

Ultimately, we are aware how incredibly blessed we are with Sophie and having her in our lives is more than we could ask for and being a family of three has lots of perks too.

Perks of a small family
  1. More time

Being a parent is tiring and hard work. It’s a tough act trying to divide your time between two or more kids who demands your attention especially when they are younger. With one child, we get to spend more time with Sophie, with my husband and most importantly on myself, which is a win-win situation for everyone.

  1. Less stress

Whenever I see mums who need to break up a quarrel or fight among their kids, I heaved a sigh of relief that I don’t have to deal with that kind of drama in my home. With no one to fight or argue with Sophie, there is lesser chaos and everyone is in a better mood and I’m hoping that it slows down the white hair from appearing soon too.

  1. More spontaneous moments

Remember how you used to be more spontaneous as a couple? Add children in the equation and when they are of varying ages, it’s just tougher to go on spur of the moment suppers, movies or even a trip. And now that Sophie is already 9 years old, she’s solely in charge of packing her own bag when we go out and that’s one logistics out of the way.

  1. Nurture a closer bond

Although I was worried that Sophie will feel lonely as an only child, I can say with certainty that she and I share a very close and special bond. It’s one part, natural but it’s also what I’ve done to nurture this relationship from day one by being very involved and intentional in spending quality time with her. It’s also my hope that she grows up, feeling one hundred percent assured that we’ve got her back and she’ll always be our baby.

  1. Lesser expenses

According to this study, it is estimates that the middle average cost of raising a child in Singapore till the child turns 20 years stands at S$360,000. With only one child, the financial responsibility certainly becomes more manageable which hopefully puts us in a better stead to reach our retirement (which is really not that far away).

Of course, one can argue that you can choose cheaper alternatives to manage cost for a large family, but having one will always be less taxing financially compared to having more.

As it’s less taxing on our finances for our small family size, it also made it easier for me to stop working which I know many mums wished they could do.

READ ALSO: To mums who thought you’ll never be a stay home mum

 

We are a family of 3 and we feel complete.

You don’t owe anyone an explanation

If you’re a mum of one, remember that you shouldn’t feel pressured to have more kids if that’s not what you plan for. You do not owe anyone an explanation for your family size choice and you are just as a mum as your girlfriends who popped 3 or 4.  Snuggle your child tonight and tell him or her how lucky you are to have them and they are more than enough too.

For the rest, remember that not every family chooses to have one child. Sometimes it’s by circumstance and not choice and you should never make comments that might be rude and insensitive. Respect that small families can be just as happy and a family of 3 can also be complete for them.

 

Enjoyed reading this post? Do like my Facebook page to get more sharing on parenting. You can also follow me on Twitter (@Susankoh) or Instagram (@ajugglingmom) for travel and fun places to go with your family.

 

 

Holiday Villa Pantai Indah in Bintan, Review

While many families were off to far and exotic travel destinations for the June school holidays, we decided to head somewhere much closer and went to Bintan. Escaping to Bintan for a beach holiday is a mere 60 minutes ferry ride from the Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal and the best part are the growing options of beach resorts you get to pick from.

Holiday Villa, Bintan

For this trip, we stayed at Holiday Villa Pantai Indah which opened a year ago and simply loved it because we had our very own private pool! #pooltimeanytime #pooltimeallday

For our family of 3, the one bedroom villa fitted us nicely. For larger families, they also offer 2 bedroom options.

Here’s tour of our villa.

The living area

Don’t you feel like diving in?

Outdoor dining area

The pool measures 2.8 x 6.15m with a height of 1.4m. There are steps before entering the pool but pool safety is important especially if you’re planning to go with younger kids.

The open air dining area was equipped with a microwave, coffee maker, kettle and regular sized fridge with an ice compartment. We brought along a bag full of cup noodles, snacks and even buns, to stuff ourselves as we heard about the limited choice of food within the resort.

The bathroom was huge and comes fitted with a shower and a bathtub. Love that they have double sinks, so we don’t have to fight when brushing our teeth. This minimal and clean bathroom look is really calling out to me and I’m thinking of giving my own bathroom a do over with the same look.

Soak your worries away

We enjoyed fantastic weather every day and were so glad that we brought along our floats instead of paying $10/hour for rental.

In fact, we brought along two floats and I’m glad there was no one to judge us when we balanced precariously on Sophie’s aeroplane float, firing away with the water gun. And the best part was snagging the float when it was on offer at Toys R Us at $15, a whooping 60% off! #gooddealmustshare

The mattress float was a hot commodity too and I got so tanned from floating around despite slathering sunblock on myself.

Needless to say, we were in the pool most of the time and soaked till we looked like prunes every day. #purebliss

Can was unopened cause you’re not allowed to have any drinks or food in the pool.

In the evenings, we were spoilt for choice as they have cable TV for so many cable channels, FOX, HBO, AXN, Nat Geo, Cartoon Network,etc… Sophie’s only gripe was that Disney channel and Disney Junior was in Bahasa. We binged on cable TV every night and Sophie was so thrilled to be on a winning streak when we played games like Rat A Tat Cat and Spot it which she brought along.

Even though we were not in Singapore when the momentous Trump-Kim summit took place, we followed the news closely on CNA and rejoiced when they signed on the denuclearisation agreement. One step closer to world peace.

Activities in Resorts

In comparison with the more established resorts, Holiday Villa had a limited list of activities. This could be intentional since most guests would be frolicking in their villas’ private pool anyway. There’s a spa within the resort that provides massage, facial, manicure and pedicure, and you can even opt for in-room massage.

Their modest list of activities included archery, ATV, kayaking, stand up paddling, biking and trampoline.

Alexis and Sophie went for the ATV 100cc where they were guided by a staff into a small jungle area and rode along the beach where they spotted monkeys too.

The ATV ride was meant to be a single rider, but they made an exception if the kid is young like Sophie. We paid $30 for the activity and if you go for the 150cc ride, it’s $120 for 30 minutes According to the staff, this one takes you on a more rugged terrain.

In the mornings, we also saw some guests kayaking when there was a high tide.

Alternatively, you can also head to other resorts like Bintan Lagoon Resort, Nirwana Resorts or Treasure Bay where non-staying guests can enjoy activities for a slightly higher fees. The hotel can arrange for a taxi or you can book your own taxi.

READ ALSO: Our glamping experience in Canopi, Bintan

These were the prices charged for 2 way transport to Bintan Lagoon Resort ($30) , Nirwana Resorts ($30) by the hotel.

We explored Bintan Lagoon Resort and told Sophie that she was here 9 years ago, when she was still in my tummy during my babymoon 🙂 Precious memories.

Dining in the Resort

Our stay came with buffet breakfast at The Legenda Café and I highly recommend sitting outdoors where you get a welcome view of the beach.

Food standards definitely have room for improvement. We were expecting a wider spread as well as higher standards of food quality for a more premium resort.

The breakfast spread was decent with an egg cooking station, and staples such as cereal, pastries, noodles, etc. Asian options like mee soto, porridge, nasi lemak and roti prata were also available on different days.

On one of the evenings, we also called for room service and ordered Ayam Penyat and Chicken burger. Between both choices, we felt that they do Asian dishes better and the chicken was nicely grilled though it was drier than I liked.

Dining outside the resort

We also had two meals at Warung Yeah which was highly raved on Trip Advisor for more appetizing meals at a fraction of the price at the resorts. Judging from the crowds, they were certainly popular among locals and tourists alike and we loved it so much!

 

Our list of recommended dishes, tahu telur, ayam bakar (way better than ayam peyet), nasi bakar yeah and satay. Not to worry if you’ve got young kids, Sophie had mami mee goreng and chicken burger which were some of the non-spicy options.

We headed out to other resorts for our meals as we grew tired of cup noodles and had pizza and pasta at Dino Bistro in Nirwana Resort Hotel. We also had dinner at Nelayan in Bintan Lagoon Resort which had a nice sea view. But the service was rather slow given that there were not more than 10 tables occupied. No complains about the food though and we went back with happy tummies.

Pizza and pasta at Dino Bistro

 

After spending such a relaxing 5 day in Bintan, we were so reluctant to head back to Singapore. It was funny how Sophie kept telling us that we must swim every single day and treasure the time we have the luxury of having the pool at our door step. I’m so looking forward to our next beach holiday where it’s as rejuvenating as this one.

Holiday Villa is certainly top on my list if we were to come back for another short get away with the family. But if your family prefers more activities, then you’ve got to try Canopi for a fun glamping experience.

 

Enjoyed reading this post? Do like my Facebook page to get more family friendly travel updates. You can also follow me on Twitter (@Susankoh) or Instagram (@ajugglingmom) for more travel and parenting posts.

 

Blissed out for our wedding anniversary in Bintan

June is always a special month for us because of our wedding anniversary. Plus with the June school
holidays, it’s the perfect excuse for the family to get away from the country.

Unlike our usual vacations where it’s jam-packed with activities, we decided to take it easy this time and headed to Bintan for a laid back holiday. It’s not exactly the kind of vacation that Alexis enjoys but hubby was worried that a more taxing holiday may be too strenuous for me since I just recovered from my surgery.

So appreciative of how thoughtful my dear husband is and even more reason for me to keep loving him.

The best part of our idle holiday was

Not rushing from one place to another.

Not worrying what time we get out of bed or turn in.

And certainly not caring if we got to eat at that must try café that everyone raves about.

 

We didn’t do much on this holiday except to sleep, swim, eat, watch cable TV, read, swim, eat and repeat.

Private pool in Holiday Villa, Bintan

We filled the villa with our laughter when we fought over who gets the floats, when we got shot by the water guns or when we attempted to be synchronised swimmers. That’s a real bonus of having your very own private pool where you’ll not be judged for your noisy shenanigans.

Sophie was ecstatic when she could feast on guilty pleasures like cup noodles, titbits and ice cream because a clean diet is thrown out of the window when we’re on vacation.

On one of the evenings, we saw the most beautiful sunset when we climbed up a hill that overlooked the beach and how my heart was filled with gratitude for these two in my life.

I love how obliging they were when I asked for photos as mementos of our holiday and love love love these photos taken at the captivating golden hour.

Happy Wife, Happy Life

That’s pretty much how we celebrated our wedding anniversary in Bintan to mark our 12 years of marriage. When I asked hubby the secret for staying in love for the past 17 years of courtship and marriage, he replied in jest, marry a good wife.

He sure knows the mantra, happy wife, happy life.

Despite my insecurities and doubts, I’m so thankful for his steadfast and unwavering support towards me. This was especially so after my operation where I literally had to lean on him for support whenever I had to get up and off bed. And not to forget the tremendous emotional support he gave when I was going through a low point in life.

Many have commented that I was brave to do what feels right for this season and be a homemaker. But honestly, hubby deserves more credit for being the braver one, for allowing me to quit my job and giving me time to rest and recuperate while I care for our family.

Our 12 years of marriage have its fair share of ups and down, quarrels and fights, but through the years, we’ve learnt that we’re a team and we’re in it for the long haul. Forgiving and forgetting goes a long way and so is learning to set aside our differences which is still a work in progress after being together for 17 years. Our marriage is far from perfect, but we remember that love is choice, every single day that keeps our love and commitment for each other strong.  

We started serving together in church and I’m so glad that we’re growing together in so many ways- growing old, growing fat, growing closer and growing spiritually.

Disconnecting to connect is the way to go for vacations and I’m glad we did that (though I was still guilty of scrolling on Instagram). It was certainly a winning recipe for a blissed out holiday and I’m looking forward to the next one 🙂

I will write a proper review of our villa, Holiday Villa Bintan in my next entry since there was so much interest from the photos I posted. It’s certainly a resort I will recommend especially for couples, plus who can’t say no to having a private pool in their villa?

 

Enjoyed reading this post? Do like my Facebook page to get the latest posts on marriage and parenting like

You can also follow me on Twitter (@Susankoh) or Instagram (@ajugglingmom) for more travel and parenting posts.