Category Archives: family

Nothing says it better than your kid

I tried this “how well do you know mom” interview with B, and his honest and hilarious answers melted my heart today.

My mommy’s name is Mei
She is 19 years old
Mom and I like to paint and play
Mom likes to say I love you
My mom really loves me
She likes to eat ice kacang
She likes to drink tea
My mom’s job is to help me
If she had time, she would like to play with me
Mom is really good at typing
If I could go anywhere in the world with her, we would take roller coasters in Japan
I love my mom because she loves me

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I also had a flashback to the past when us CRIB founders were interviewed for a Mother’s Day feature last year. Here’s the coverage 🙂

Happy Mother’s Day to all moms – you are indispensable super women!  And for those trying to conceive and/or moms to be, take care of yourselves, and while we trust and hope for a future to come, don’t neglect to live fully in the now.  Hugs.

For updates, reviews and more, follow Finally Mama on Facebook and Instagram.

A Thanksgiving reflection

Hooray! B has finally joined the rest of his classmates who’ve turned four. As his last week of nursery approaches, I’m looking forward to our Thanksgiving break together before he gets promoted to kindergarten. Here’s some reflections on his first full year in childcare.

Dear B,

You’ve shown social maturity and adaptability with the many changes this year. There were farewells to old playmates and adjustments to new friends and teachers at school. You didn’t like spending less time with mama as I not only returned to full time corporate work, but travelled away on business quite often – at one point for almost 3 weeks straight. Yet your teachers remarked on your “very positive self identify and sense of belonging”, 他会告诉老师:“妈妈不在新加坡”“我的爷爷来接我” as you figured things out and embraced the village of caregivers around you.

You’re growing in knowledge and imagination (and negotiation skills)! Being constantly surrounded by books has motivated you to learn how to read, first reciting from memory, then through sight words, and now as you blend and decipher more and more each day. “There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.”  We try to read together every night when I’m at home, borrow or buy new readers (like the Timmy and Tammy series below), and write down “new” words together.

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Flipping through our notebook with all the new or tough words

You are learning to persevere and not give up. You were frustrated that you couldn’t draw or write as well as some of your friends but I’m glad we encouraged you to keep on doodling and scribbling. Since you like mixed medium, illustrated stories and numbers, we incorporated math and sensory play, gave titles to your art and made collages of our holidays. Mama too has learned to be patient and not compare! Remember Leo, the late bloomer.

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Colouring isn’t my favourite, but completing a number puzzle is!

Speaking of perseverance, you completed your first sport events this year. Mama crazily signed us up for an 800m Cold Storage kids run (which I thought was only 100m – oops), and I am so proud that you finished it even if we held hands and walked part of the way. You also biked solo in the OCBC Cycle event and grew confident enough that you cycled with us around Maldives. You didn’t even realise that those training wheels never touched the ground! We’ll upgrade you soon to a 16″ big boy pedal bike once you’re tall enough 🙂

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You’re starting to apply yourself in things that interest you, like violin. Though some days I bribe you to practice with car stickers, you surprise me with your progress and willingness to continue each term. Your teachers even invited you to perform as one of the musicians this year, and you did wonderfully! I’m glad you’re learning that “what separates the talented individual from a successful one is a lot of hard work.” While we’ll still explore many things and may drop others as you grow up, I’ll always support you in your pursuits as long as I can and you want to 🙂

Perhaps mommy and daddy could also work on two areas this coming year while your fantastic four is “under construction.” One is to more intentionally live out our faith as individuals and as a family. B may not like sitting still to pray, but he loves the bible stories and has made more friends at church. How can we help you grow into a godly man?  How can we serve our church community together?

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Same, same, but different! B likes to compare between the kids bibles

The other area of course, is Chinese. Although we found a good programme at Sparkanauts, I still wish for more time with you since no one else speaks Chinese at home. Your teacher suggested that we use videos, games or apps – 在家中可以观看有教育意义的卡通短片或者儿歌 。或者通过 ⼀些华文的电脑游戏来学习华文。家人可以使用华语和他进行沟通,增强他的日常生活⼝ 语。老师可以在和他的沟通中纠正他的句型错误并完整他的句子 –  beyond continuing to speak in Chinese. Mama has been quite strict about screen time, but perhaps we could try this in the coming year? That way, maybe ama and 公公 could get immersed too 🙂

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Some of the things we’ve tried for Chinese, if only I had more time!

My darling B, you melt my heart when you say, “I love you more than all the numbers, mama” and you make us laugh with “Now I like daddy, but I really like mama … when I’m old and I like mama, I’ll really like daddy.” I thank God every day for you and how blessed we are as your parents.

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For more updates and reviews, follow Finally Mama on Facebook and Instagram.

To Market, To Market … at Pek Kio

“A bridge to the past, which reminds us what was here, what our previous generations did here, what our parents built here and what we have inherited and want to make here.” – PM Lee Hsien Loong, re-opening of the Pek Kio Community Centre, 28 July 2013

Pek Kio is bordered by Balestier Road, Kampong Java Road, Moulmein Road, and Serangoon Road.  It’s named after a “white bridge” (in Hokkien) that once spanned Kampong Java Canal. When Singapore’s bridges were first built, they were named after the colonial authorities – and promptly nicknamed by the locals who couldn’t quite pronounce ang-mo names! So the areas around the bridges were named after their colours, such as O-Kio (Black Bridge) = Balestier, Pek Kio (White Bridge) = Moulmein and Ang Kio (Red Bridge) = Ang Mo Kio. Pek Kio was also known as Little England, as many roads are named after English places, such as Cambridge, Hampshire and Oxford.Screen Shot 2015-08-16 at 10.47.38 pmThe (redesigned) Pek Kio Market and Food Centre was completed in 1984. Although not as large or popular as the nearby Tekka or Whampoa Markets, it’s a place we visit almost every Saturday morning as it has something for everyone: Eat, shop, play and exercise!

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First: “Train” at the IPPT track opposite the center
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Next: Eat breakfast, alternating between peanut pancakes, chwee kueh, carrot cake, porridge, prawn mee, wanton mee…
After breakfast, check out old school treats like butter cigarette sticks, egg pandan, gem and ABC biscuits

Then, hop by the wet market to re-stock on local goods and browse fresh supplies while the kiddo heads off to the (many) playgrounds nearby with dad. We don’t do our entire week’s shopping here – as there are 6 of us at home and we’ve got rather varied diets!  IMHO, the selection isn’t that fantastic here, but it’s a good place to pick up something you’ve missed (or couldn’t find) – and it’s definitely cleaner and less crowded than many other wet markets.
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Fresh, tasty fish balls!

Support local fruit farms

How to get here:
Bus 131 – bus stop B50081 right in front of the center
Farrer Park MRT – 8 mins walk from Exit D
Ample parking around Cambridge, Dorset and Owen HDB sites

Want to know more about Pek Kio’s history?  Check out:
http://www.ghettosingapore.com/key-historic-events-in-pek-kio/
http://www.nea.gov.sg/public-health/hawker-centres/the-story-of-hawker-centres-upgrading-programme-(hup)/did-you-know-/pek-kio-market-food-centre
http://remembersingapore.org/2011/04/04/old-names-of-places/

Follow our “To Market, To Market” Blog Train as we visit a different market each day with a different parent blogger!
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Next up is Meiling, a mom blogger who blogs at Universal Scribbles about her parenting adventures with her two children and her personal growth as a mom, wife and business woman in sunny Singapore. While she has fond memories of her weekly trips to the Tiong Bahru and Chinatown wet markets with her mother, she has no such luck with her children who much prefers the appeal of newer marketplace. Check out her post next and see where she takes her kids to market to market…

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For more updates and reviews, follow Finally Mama on Facebook and Instagram.  

There’s no place like home

Last weekend, hubby and I went to Maldives with little B to celebrate our tenth anniversary.  It was a magical time where we unplugged, soaked in nature – sun, sand and water, ate fresh organic food, and rode bicycles, boats and buggies as our only mode of transportation from sunrise to sunset.

Magical MaldivesLast week’s trip did wonders for my soul, but this recent long weekend back in Singapore warmed the heart.  The SG50 celebration meant a lot to us in big (national) and small (personal) ways, and it was this extended time – with family and friends, locals and expats – who all call Singapore home, that made it so special for us.

IMG_4695Like many, we had a wet start to the celebrations and tried to visit a few SG50 public events (e.g. Marina Bay Sands, Botanic Gardens). In the end, the highlights were the parties we hosted at home – an evening NDP 2015 viewing party with good friends, and a brunch playdate for B’s friends the next day.  There was more fun and laughter, food and drinks, adults, kids and babies, and TV watching (i.e. live streaming via AirPlay) in our house than we’ve had in a long while!  We spontaneously broke out into ooohs and aaahs when the jets flew past and the fireworks came on, sang along to HOME when Kit Chan took the stage, stood up to sing Majulah Singapura and recite the national pledge. Hubby and I also had a sense of nostalgia as this might be the last time we could view all of this – from a distance at our balcony as we will be moving next year.

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CG Connect Viewing Party, August 9, 2015
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SG50 Playdate, August 10, 2015

The kids got on famously (thank God!) and devised their own impromptu games and craft (who said creativity is dead in our age of technology?)  We even made our version of old school pick-up sticks with some paint and extra wooden chopsticks 🙂

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B and I had some 1-to-1 learning moments together too, thanks to the Sparkanauts National Day parent bonding package:

My heart is full as this long weekend draws to an end.  Happy 50th Birthday, Singapore!  I’m grateful and proud to call you my country, my home.

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SG50 Carnival at Botanic Gardens

For more updates, reviews and giveaways, follow Finally Mama on Facebook and Instagram.  If you too call Singapore your home, come join us at this month’s blog train on “What Singapore Means To Me.” 

What Singapore means to me

Hope everyone is having a great, not too wet, start to our Golden Jubilee celebrations! I’ve been looking forward to the long NDP weekend all week. We caught a fleeting glimpse of the RSAF Black Knights before the aerial show ended early, lunched at MBS and snacked at the nearby home cooked food fair (tip: don’t bother). We’d also planned to visit the Art Science Museum but the queues were just too long. Still, that and the rain didn’t dampen on our spirits as we found other ways to celebrate while being thoroughly drenched!

I’m also excited to kick off a blog train on “What Singapore Means To Me” with my thoughts as a naturalised Singapore citizen. Links to all contributions will be updated below – do join us this month and/or simply enjoy browsing through the posts about Singapore 🙂

Home and a bright future. We relocated here 8 years ago from the US, and friends and family from all over the world would often visit or transfer in and out due to work. One day, I realised that hubby and I had stopped thinking about Singapore as a place to “transit” but one that we truly wanted to raise our family in, stake our careers on, and play our small part in nation building too. So I took up Singapore citizenship 2.5 years ago – and look forward to what lies ahead.

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Little Green Dot.  Growing up in Malaysia, Singapore was always perceived as the “atas” neighbour that was so lucky to have many parks and tree-lined roads. Today, from its freshly minted UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Singapore Botanic Gardens, to the ubiquitous sky-rise gardenspark connectors, nature reserves and neighbourhood parks, Singapore’s delightful and thoughtful approach to urban development has benefited residents and visitors alike, and inspired fans worldwide. What’s more, these are all FREE public spaces despite the immense effort in creating and maintaining them.  So thank you, NParks, the late Lee Kuan Yew and our leaders for setting Singapore on a transformational path that started from the 1960s to become a Garden City and now, “City In A Garden.” What a living example of 前人种树, 後人乘凉 (“one generation plants the trees, the later generations enjoy the shade”).

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Haven for multiple generations. Since making Singapore our home, we’ve also encouraged my overseas parents and siblings to not just visit, but consider staying on as longer term residents.  Many cities don’t fully support the needs of a multi-generational family, with its complex mix of jobs, education, healthcare, transportation, security, social, emotional and physical needs. IMHO, Singapore meets and balances those demands better than many other countries. While not perfect, the government also constantly monitors changes and tries to make improvements on the quality and cost of living, childcare, eldercare, the school system and public transit, and has also acknowledged the role grandparents play in the decision to have (one or) more babies 🙂 Our lives have been so much richer and busier, with three generations in our family to care for each other and make memories together.

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So, whether you’re Singapore born, a naturalised citizen, a permanent resident or just a visitor in “transit”, if you call Singapore home, this “What Singapore Means To Me” blog train has a stop for you. Hop on the MRT by adding your links below and include the blog button (copy the code) in your post.  Majulah Singapura!

Finally Mama

Next on the train is Jenn, who blogs at mylilbookworm. This is where she documents her thoughts on educational, parental, health and investment topics. Check out her blog post on what Singapore means to her and how she spent her National Day long weekend!
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Contributions on “What Singapore Means To Me”:
Aug 9: Mei at Finally Mama
Aug 10: Jenn at My Lilbookworm
Aug 11: Cynthia at B.C.D.E. That’s Us
Aug 12: Waiwai at PeiPei.HaoHao
Aug 13: Qian Wen at Raising Our Successful Children
Aug 14: Edlyn at MummyEd
Aug 15: Natasha at So Natty
Aug 16: Jennifer at Dino Family
Aug 17: Lin Ying at Bumble Bee Mum
Aug 18: Danessa at Prayerfull Mum
Aug 19: Rachael at MalMal Our Inspiration
Aug 20: Yanxiang at The Littlest And Us Makes Three
Aug 21: Meiling at Universal Scribbles
and more here!

For more updates, reviews and giveaways, follow Finally Mama on Facebook and Instagram.

Dear hardworking dad, let’s take a holiday!

I arrived back in Singapore late Thursday night, and belatedly remembered that this weekend was Father’s Day! #mommyfail. With not much time (or energy left, honestly) to buy or book anything elaborate, including this weekend’s popular daddy activities like the Aviva Superfundae, B and I snuck in a few hours at home instead to make our Father’s Day gifts.

This is what we came up with:  Stencilled vehicles on multi-coloured panels, monographed by our wee preschooler.  They were a shout out to how hardworking dads are and wishing them time to take a break and take us on holiday too 🙂  This turned out to be a relatively easy and fun DIY project for B who’s still learning how to write and paint “neatly” and prefers drawing vehicles.

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Here’s how we did it:

1) Cut out panels in the desired shapes, ideally using canvas or repurposed styrofoam or cardboards.

2) Let the kid select a few colours of his choice for the background.  You could probably use any type of paint. We chose watercolour as that had the widest selection available, but also limited it to three colours per panel.  I was quite pleased that B chose colours that blended really well, unprompted.

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3) Squeeze out, mix and paint the colours on the boards. Dry overnight or in the hot sun for a few hours. We used foam rollers to generate some texture. Plus, it covers the surface area faster (and dries faster – remember, we didn’t have much time!)

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3) Choose the design, shape and/or letters to draw on the backgrounds. We just selected vehicle stencils for each individual.  I originally wanted to print each name in English and Chinese but I also knew how much B likes to “own” his artwork, and I’d be helping out too much to make things nice and legible at his age.  So, finally – we get to use those art stencils from ArtFriends – which last came out of the box when we did our group playdate cardboard house 1.5 years ago.  Alphabet stencils would also have been perfect here.  I tried making them, but gosh, those are hard to DIY!  I’ll just have to wait till B gets better at writing…

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4) Select neutral colours for the stencils to stand out against the background, i.e. black/grey for lighter backgrounds and white for darker backgrounds.  Make sure the brush and paint are relatively dry to minimise leakage.  You may also need to help by taping over unused images or pressing the stencils down hard while your preschooler paints it over.

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Bonus activity: Talk through who are the daddies in the family.  In our case, we did a little revision of our old extended family tree, and B wanted to make FOUR gifts for daddy, 公公, 爷爷 and uncle M (mama’s brother in the US) who I hope to visit  soon.

For updates, reviews and more, follow Finally Mama on Facebook or on InstagramLinking up with:

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Perfect in our imperfections

This year, B (mostly) ran his first 800m race at the 2015 Cold Storage Kids Run.  Seeing him press on despite feeling hot and tired made me proud – and reminded me to persevere and not give up despite how we feel sometimes. Motherhood is kinda like that, isn’t it?!

We're almost there, B!
We’re almost there, B!

This year marks our fourth Mothers’ Day. Every time, I can’t help but thank God (again!) for B who made me a mother, and was the catalyst for this Finally Mama blog.  I’m all too aware of my imperfections as a mom but am glad that since I made my 2015 Chinese New Year resolutions, I’ve been able to find greater contentment this year at working full time, supporting CRIB, and being a mom to (just) one – adorable, amazing, appreciative, and at times, aggravating – 3.5 year old kid.

Thanks to B’s teachers and dad, I received some nice (surprise!) dedications this year:

Presenting me with my letter
Presenting me with my special letter
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with DIY coupons to redeem and art for Mother’s Day

What was inside was so simple yet awesome in its effort. B’s drawing and colouring isn’t great at this age. I know he wants to write and colour better, but I’ve been trying not to “correct” his grip and control, but rather let him keep scribbling, drawing, painting, clay and play doughing et al.  So, it touched me to see him try to write his name, illustrate each “coupon” accordingly (with his smiley faces) and colour the flower as best he could.

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Coincidentally on Mother’s Day, I also started to volunteer once a month at his Sunday School N2 class.  Many (including hubby) would argue that my schedule is packed as it is!  But I wanted to play a bigger part in his faith journey, support the staff that put in so much effort to manage the kids while we are free to attend the main service, and also spend more moments with him on a weekend, especially on weekdays when I’m away.

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I’m not perfect, but I’m in the “World’s Best Mom” to someone 🙂

Last but not least, this year, I also wanted B to appreciate not just mama but his grandma, as both grandparents have stepped up this year to help with chauffeuring and childminding. Daddy took B to a nearby nursery where he chose fresh carnations for each of us “moms” – mama, ama and nainai.

Ultimately, what makes most happy as a mom are the spontaneous expressions of love and honest remarks that affirm the bond B and I have.  Just as we love our kids through the ups and downs, so too do they love us despite our imperfections.  And although we “older and wiser” adults should guide them as they grow, our kids often teach us wonderful lessons too – like ending a race well, no matter how tough the journey can be sometimes.

This post is part of the “Dear Mummy” blog train, a series of letters and dedications from our kids to moms.  

Next up is Winnie, who blogs at Toddly Mummy, where she shares her thoughts on parenting, and fun moments from their home learning sessions and outdoor adventures. She sometimes share about her favourite food too, along with occasional side orders of stuff that she finds useful as a busy mum.

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This is my daddy!

Busy mama almost forgot that it’s hubby’s birthday today.  Thanks to awesome tech, we whisked together a DIY birthday card just in time for a very special man when he came home from his overseas business trip.

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Daddy’s portrait and writing done 100% by B on the Kids Doodle iOS app, edited on the birthday template on Pages for Mac with added text and printing by mama, all under 15 minutes!

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For updates, reviews and more, like me at Finally Mama on Facebook.

Try something new this Goat Year

新年蒙福, 新年蒙恩 – Blessed Year of the Goat!  I’m sneaking in my post for the Things I Will Do Differently blog train in between house visits and prep for another overseas work trip. In the spirit of Chinese New Year, here are my reflections on what to do differently this year, inspired by 春聯 (spring couplets), which is quite a new feat for me too given my preschool level Chinese :).

心想事成 – Last year was quite a fruitful year – getting CRIB off the ground, transitioning B to full-day childcare and the grandparents to help more as I moved from entrepreneur back to corporate life. Yet, there was always this underlying frustration around our failure to conceive #2. With each passing month, I kept burying my emotions under a cover of busyness. This year, I’m focusing on enjoying what we have and not dwelling on what we don’t.

岁岁平安 – When days get busy, inner peace tends to flee, and we fall in a vicious spiral of stress and sleeplessness. This year, I aim to give 100% in areas that matter and not split all my time, focus and energy on everything everyday. No matter how early I wake, weekday mornings are always rushed, so I’ve settled on a new routine: After my son and I end his nighttime routine with his daily devotional, I linger in his room with lights out to reflect and recalibrate for the day ahead. I know once I walk out, I’ll start attacking my to-do list again, so this is precious quiet time for me.  Philippians 4:7 The peace of God will guard our hearts and minds in Christ

笑口常开 – A related change I want to make this year, is to be more JOYFUL. When I do pause to take stock of things, I realise there’s so much to be thankful for but why aren’t more of my waking moments “happy?” When I look at my son and see such unadulterated joy in him (most of the time), I find that my happiness is more a function of choice than circumstance. This year, I choose to nurture a more positive, cheerful spirit which can hopefully affect every aspect of my life.  Laughter is the best medicine, right? 😀

事业有成 – Planning is in my DNA. I tend to live by “a failure to plan is a plan to fail.”  I’ve worn the planner hat for so long though that I forget to release control in my personal life – ironically, I’m better at delegating and bending at work than at home.  This year, I’ll go with the flow more in my leisure time, entrust the big dreams to God, and corporate goals to the collective team. Stop filling up my evenings and weekends with work or schedules – take detours like evening walks in Pierce Reservoir and Bishan Park near the office. Less nagging the hubby on his lazy weekend mornings – join him instead!

身体健康 – Those of us whose love language is acts of service, tend to give and give till we run out of gas. This year, I allow myself to be responsibly selfish – to carve out specific ME times, to ask for or outsource help, to not skip meals, to actually complete my Pilates and spa packages, to leave B at home so that hubby and I can dinner date each together.  I believe if I “eat what nourishes my body, do what nourishes my soul, and think what nourishes my mind,” I’ll be a better wife, mom, daughter, colleague and friend…. and stay forever 羊 ;). Who cares for the carers? It starts with us.

恭喜发财,万事如意,金玉满堂,步步高升,青春美丽!

Family CNY 2015

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The next stop is at Meeningfully which is run by Shermeen, a fellow working mom to a 2.5 year old, a day-dreamer and closet romantic. She often tries to do too much in her attempt to juggle her multiple roles, and at the same time hopes time will slow down as she does not want her “cheeky monkey” to grow up so quickly. At 35 this year, read on about what she is going to do differently to acheive some of her goals.

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For updates, reviews and more, like me at Finally Mama on Facebook.

A year of CANS and PLANS

2014 was a year of personal transition. While mommy juggled full time corporate life, CRIB – her social enterprise start-up, and finding quality time with hubby and son, B graduated to his big boy bed (super single, to last till NS!), afternoon drop-off programs and extended day childcare. We remain eternally grateful for this precious blessing that lifts our weary evenings, fills our weekends with laughter, and brings never-ending joy and wonder to our home.

For 2015, I’m taking a life lesson from the amazing women and entrepreneurs I’ve come to know at CRIB, and also, my 3 year old, whose self-confidence and curiosity defy gravity = BELIEVE!

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No it's not modern art, but B's writing his full name out just after turning 3
No, it’s not modern art, just B trying to write his full name out sometime after he turned 3

Happy New Year!

For updates, reviews and more, like me at Finally Mama on Facebook.

Linking up with:

www.ajugglingmom.com