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Daphne

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So, February

February and I aren’t like the best of friends. We try to get along but it’s awkwardly cordial at best, with the possibility of being straight up dysfunctional far more often.

You always know what to expect with January. There’s the leftover high from the year-end break coupled with the start of a new year to keep things exciting but come February, it’s pretty much just a sad reminder of how much of the year you have to get through before you reach the next December.

In this particular February, I feel like I’m already redlining it two months into the new year.

It reminds me of the time I attempted to take up running like all the cool kids. Want to hear about it? Of course you do. I had decided that I was going to be the kind of person who runs. With much determination, I laced up my trainers, did my warm ups and started what was meant to be my easy 5km jog. About a minute in, all of my insides were starting to hurt. Another minute later, my lungs were on fire and I thought I was about to die. At this point, my mathematical brain got all like, “I’ve done about 200 metres out of 5000, there’s another 4800 metres to go and at this rate, I will be 100% super dead by the time I reach the end.

That particular run didn’t last very much longer and it was probably the reason I didn’t attempt another run for the next um, 15 years. I started running again last year and I still feel the soul crushing pain about two minutes into every run. I glance at how much further I have to go and will immediately feel the need to give up on life but I’ve learnt that if I just keep going, my brain stops registering the pain after a couple more minutes.

I think Februarys are a bit like that for me. It’s that point where the routine feels like an unbearable weight and I’m not quite on my game. I’m exhausted way too early for me to plausibly make it to the end and things aren’t looking all that great. Maybe I’ll catch a second wind or maybe it’ll be one of those runs that feel painful all the way through but the only way to find out is to keep going.

Drink some water. Put on some music. Find that little bit of joy or whatever it is that adds a boost to keep those legs moving until I find my mojo.

**

On that note, Finn and Theo are the definition of best bros around here these days and watching them hang out has been asking a lot of my ovaries. These two boys have been spending hours every day just talking to each other about their secret boy stuff – adventure missions and special powers and being in their little world with very complicated rules that only the two of them understand.

They take this very seriously – there are a lot of charts and many pages with detailed descriptions of special abilities. Finn will do all the writing and then they will huddle over the pages intently like it’s their 武林秘籍.

These two have the most adorable dynamics. Occasionally Theo will yell “kor kor Finn is getting all the powers” and Finn will try to explain himself like “no, we both have the same number of powers, Theo has 5 and I have 5“; to which Theo will yell “but his powers are more powerful than mine” and Finn be will like “WHAT?? He chose those powers himself and they are the same kind of powerful and it’s all imaginary. Urgh ok ok fine we can swap powers” and Theo will nuzzle his head into Finn’s arm affectionately because he knows that a big brother like this is something special.

Sometimes I watch them together and it’s exactly how I imagined their relationship would be like and that makes me smile.

**

I realise I haven’t really talked about the little 3-day trip we took to Hong Kong Disneyland last month. It was meant to be Hayley’s first introduction to Disney and also for us to get in some quality time with the two babies.

The trip was only 72 hours but I’m glad to report that both of those things were achieved to varying degrees of success. Turns out that this baby is terrified of even the slowest baby rides and is not a fan of all rides in general. Her first ride was on the Slinky Dog Spin (a ride that’s as relaxing as it gets) and she basically lost it from that point on. The moment we started moving, she grabbed me in terror and screamed “I WANT TO GET OFF NOW!!! LET ME OOOOUUUTTTTTT!!

I thought it was first time jitters and we managed to talk her into riding the carousel and the flying carpets, both of which ended up the same manner – with a lot of weeping and gnashing of teeth. So that was that for this baby.

She’s more of a “let’s walk around and soak in the magical Disney atmosphere” kind of kid so that’s what we spent our time doing. Munching on popcorn, watching parades, and enjoying the cool Disney air. On the bright side, she was happy to chill out while the husband and I took turns to ride Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars 14 times one evening when it was a walk on. Also, why have I never done this ride before? It’s amazing, possibly right up there in my list of top 3 rides of all time. Disney World’s Big Thunder Mountain Railroad used to be in that spot but this is definitely better in terms of pacing, backward drops and overall fun factor.

I’ll always miss the other kids who didn’t get to go but traveling with 2 kids was almost too easy. And they got to have our attention divided by 2 instead of 5, which in terms of math is a very good thing.

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The best childhood starts with GROW

Before I became a mom, I didn’t think I’d be spending this much time planning for my kids’ meals and worrying about whether they got enough nutrition + energy for the day. I need to think about how much they’re eating, what they’re eating, and how much this all costs, because feeding 5 kids can be quite a challenge.

Truett used to be a picky eater as a baby, but he has grown up to be a very adventurous eater and I love it. I’ll be enjoying some smoked beef short ribs or kurobuta pork with miso and he’ll come up next to me like “wow that looks delicious!” and I’ll laugh because just a few years ago, I’ll try to offer him a bite of my food and he’ll scrunch up his face like I’m making him eat prison food. He’s now my designated food assistant. On weekend mornings, Tru gets up and takes breakfast orders from the smaller kids, then makes them all queue up for their orders, it’s so adorable.

Perhaps due to the extra responsibilities, Tru is constantly hungry so I need to ensure I keep him fuelled for the day. This boy eats all the time and he’s usually asking me questions like “mom, is there a snack? What are we having for dinner? FOOOODDD, MORE FOOOOOOOOOODDDDD!!” In between meals, there’s milk to save the day.

GROW School contains all-rounded nutrition with a combination of 26 vitamins and minerals, DHA, Choline, Taurine and Prebiotics to support active school-going kids. It’s great that GROW is more nutritious than regular fresh milk, and the convenient ready-to-drink packs make it super easy to bring along to school as a quick boost for the day.

Kirsten is my designated Hayley-whisperer and all round handy helper who does everything at home on top of all her school activities. On an average school day, she’s in school from 7 in the morning till about 2pm. When she’s back, she has her lunch, does her homework, packs her stuff for the next day and spends what’s left of her afternoon hanging out with her favourite baby. In her own words, “it’s exhausting!” and I fully agree. I try to make it easier by cheering her on (not particularly helpful) and making sure she’s getting all the nutrition she needs (way more helpful).

I also pack GROW ready-to-drink milk for her snack time in school, which gives her a nutrition boost to stay energetic till she gets home. Then at night, she drinks a glass of GROW School milk before bed. With GROW being certified as a Healthier Choice milk for school-going kids, I feel better knowing that she’s getting the nutrition she needs to keep up her energy levels for a looooong day in school. I’m glad I have one less thing to worry about. With GROW, she can fulfill her nutrition and energy needs for school, play, and growth.

Finn is in a bit of a transitional phase. He’s 60% big kid and wants to be exactly like Tru to do all the big kid things, but there’s still the baby part of him that I’m happy to hang on to for as long as I can.

During our trip to Iceland last December, he was so happy about having short days because it would get dark at 4.30pm and that meant plenty of time for game night. We had the most epic 3-hour monopoly sessions in the hotel lounge and there would be other guests hovering around to watch the game. There was this group of Korean ladies watching us play with such enthusiasm that I wanted to ask them to join in. Then after game night, Finn would be my baby again, asking for me to cuddle him in bed and YES PLEASE!! There’s nothing I love more than offering my cuddle services.

The baby part of him also still enjoys his milk every night. Now that he’s in Primary 1, we’ve got a deal where he takes his milk from a regular cup every alternate night, but when he gets to drift off to sleep while drinking his favourite GROW Preschool milk from his favourite sippy cup, he’s the happiest boy in the world. This makes me the happiest mom because I know it’s a great source of nutrition to help my not-so-baby keep up his energy levels for school and other activities.

I’m pleased to announce Theo is still the best eater among all the kids and I’m pretty sure he’s getting all the nutrition he needs. :) Today, he just came up to me and said, “Hey mom!! If you have anything like super yummy food, you can give it to me” and I was like “Whenever I have super yummy food, you’re the first person I think of!! But give me 20 minutes, we’ll be having lunch in just a bit” and he positively beamed before running off to play.

We try to make sure all the kids have a healthy, balanced diet, but with Theo, it’s more about cutting down on sugar and snacks since he enjoys tomatoes just as much as a pack of gummies. One of the things that is sure to put a smile on his face is GROW Preschool, which he declared to be “very delicious!!” I’m glad he’s drinking milk that is 25% lower in sugar and 25% higher in calcium than other fresh milk, making it the healthier choice.

We were in Disneyland Hong Kong with the two babies last month and as a special treat, we brought some GROW ready-to-drink packs along for Theo. These are so convenient to bring along to the theme park and Theo was super thrilled to be enjoying his milk while walking down Disneyland main street.

Baby Hayley will forever be my baby and I’m just enjoying babying her for as long as she wants me to. The big kids are back in school and I’ve got another year with this baby before she joins them in school. Part of being a mom is wanting to give the best to our kids and I’ve learnt that best does not necessarily mean the most expensive. Especially with 5 kids, I’ve gotten pretty good at identifying great quality products at a fab price. Like when it comes to formula milk, I’ve learned that having more DHA in a tin doesn’t mean it’s better. What’s most important is how much DHA gets absorbed by the baby.

Studies have shown that formulas with no palm oil have better DHA absorption – clinical tests showed 6.5 times lower DHA loss through stools! So, less loss means more DHA is absorbed by your little one. No palm oil formulations also improve calcium absorption, bone mineral content and bone mineral density.

This baby drinks GROW Stage 3 milk before bed (and nap) every day and once she’s done, she will hold out her cup and ask in the sweetest voice “More milky, please??” I’ll be like “you just finished a whole cup, I think we’re done, baby” and she’ll do her “PLEASE?? SMALL TINY ONLY…” and eventually, I’ll cave and she will cheer like it’s a huge victory.

It’s great that GROW Stage 3 has a formulation with no palm oil, and it provides all-rounded nutrition including DHA for brain development, calcium for growth with strong bones and iron for immunity. A new discovery that I found is that the type of fats used in formula can affect the type and texture of stools your baby passes. So, mummies, instead of just looking out for the amount of DHA in formula, also take note of fat blends because they can help to support better absorption of DHA.

Find out more about the absorption benefits of formulas with no palm oil. Request for your free 900g tin of GROW today.

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GROW grows with my kids, offering them the all-rounded nutrition they need at each stage of their growing-up years. As an added bonus for a mom with 5 kids, GROW provides high-quality nutrition at an affordable price. This gives me the best value when it comes to nutrition compared to other fresh milk.

Get this savvy deal and apply my promo code, ‘GROW5D’ when you checkout to get a 5% off on your next purchase.

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Cleaning up and sharing some joy

Last Sunday morning, Truett, Kirsten and I had the chance to take part in something really special. We were up bright and early to help out in Project Refresh, an initiative organised by Young NTUC (YNTUC) and North East Community Development Council (CDC) to refresh the homes of low-income seniors who are living alone in Tampines. 

Since 2017, YNTUC has joined hands with North East CDC to run five Project Refresh in the North East District, making last weekend’s edition the sixth, and the largest in terms of scale, by far. Over 1,000 volunteers from unions, schools, corporate organisations, grassroots and Tampines residents came together to conduct refurbishment works in 96 household units in Tampines. These included cleaning, decluttering, painting and furniture replacement.

Many of the volunteers were students and it was really cool to see so many teenagers spending their Sunday helping to scrub dirt from the houses of these elderly. They were all cheerful and enthusiastic while really going at the stubborn grime in the kitchen, it was actually very inspiring to watch.

The big kids had previously helped out with a similar home cleaning project so they had some idea of what to expect. We have also been watching a lot of Marie Kondo (Kirsten loves it!) so we were all ready to help spark some serious joy. The kids got right down to the simpler tasks like wiping the stove and fridge and windows.

In addition to the cleaning, we were able to chat with some of these seniors who are living alone. One of the elderly ladies seemed happy to talk to the kids, asking them about their school and hobbies. She was like “Wah very good, you all can help to clean. Go home you must help your mommy and daddy clean up also” and they were like “Um, orh okay…” and I got to be all “YEAHHH I’m totally down for this!! Please continue this lovely conversation.

This spring cleaning was perfect timing with Lunar New Year right around the corner. Some of the volunteers from the PAP Community Foundation (PCF) and Tampines grassroots also contributed their time towards preparing hand-made Lunar New Year decorations and greeting cards to decorate 59 Chinese households. There were booths for calligraphy and origami and everyone was hard at work.

We were glad to be able to be a part of this amazing initiative. Spending a day to help someone clean up their home may not seem like a lot but if it can bring a smile to someone who’s living alone and in need of assistance, then it’s a small step that makes a difference. Also, it’s a beautiful display of the kampung spirit, and how we can connect and understand each other better.