Monthly Archives

June 2012

Getting all sentimental now Milestones and growing up The Kao Kids


June 25, 2012

To my dear children,

The world you will be growing up in would be so much more perplexing and complicated. I pray you will make God your guiding light in every step of the way.

I had a childhood in a much simpler world.

When I was your age, the playgrounds I knew consisted of sand, granite fixtures, wooden splintered planks for see-saws and rusty merry-go-rounds.

The grandpa I knew grew a jackfruit tree so huge cats could sleep on its branches. The grandma I knew pierced my cousin’s ears with a hot blistering needle. I watched her kill rats with her wooden clogs. I watched him crack open jackfruits from his harvest.

I ate iced pops for ten cents and called my mother at a pay-phone with the same amount of money. My father had a pager louder than a siren.

I took school buses that did not have air conditioning and carried a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle school bag in purple. My favourite Ninja Turtle’s name was Leonardo. My sister’s was Michelangelo.

I listened to cassette tapes and made collections of my favourite songs by pressing the record button on a blank tape. I played handheld games that needed only four AA-sized batteries. I wrote to penpals, collected stamps and joined the Bookworm Club.

I ran around barefoot, ate dirt and chomped down curdled pig’s blood in my bowl of yong tau foo.

I threw coins in a wishing well and got a Boggle game set and a Charlie Brown metal pencil case for Christmas.

When my mother and father took pictures of me, we waited for almost a week before we could see them.

This was a picture taken almost three decades ago. No surprises here which one is your mother.

Someday, when you’re old enough to recall bits of your childhood, remember to write a letter back to Mama. I would like to hear what you thought your world was like.


Love always,



Food, glorious food! Going Out! Reviews

Wild honey yum

June 24, 2012

I’m the sort who can eat breakfast for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Actually, I am the sort who can eat eggs, butter and toast any time of the day.

So I heard from friends who raved about this restaurant that serves all-day breakfast. And I got the husband to indulge me a few days ago to have breakfast for lunch.

Wild Honey serves different possibilities of breakfast. We went to the one at Mandarin Gallery. The European Signature ($19) I had featured Eggs Benedict, prosciutto ham and mushrooms on a thick slice of toast. I’m not into food reviews so the best word I could use to describe what I ate is “yum”. I could use the toast to soak up all the oozing egg yolk from the eggs Ben and that, was very satisfying for me. Becks had forest berries in a bowl of bircher muesli, which they call their Swiss breakfast ($12) and my husband had a generous portion of spinach salad with slices of sweet potato and pumpkin ($16) and a cappuccino ($6).

It was a pleasant experience. The wait staff was chatty and friendly. The ambiance of the place was cosy and lovely. It wasn’t crowded but that’s because we went on a weekday. The breakfast was scrumptiously worth every cent I paid for.

Would definitely go again to try their version of a Tunisian breakfast. I heard the tomato stew with fried eggs and chorizo sausages are to die for.

Going Out! The Kao Kids

Not so fun day out

June 23, 2012

I’m convinced after today that my kids are somewhat different from other kids. I’d had always thought all kids loved crowds, carnivals and carousels. Not mine, apparently.

Fatherkao and I have an aversion to crowds and queues. As far as I can remember, we’ve never stood in a queue for anything for more than three minutes and generally avoided crowded places. We would never queue to eat at any restaurant or stand in line for a taxi. If we had to queue to pay for groceries at the supermarket, we’d rather put everything back and order stuff online. We don’t even queue to go to church. We just head straight to the Overflow Room. We don’t go to town and we don’t like waiting for a parking lot. We avoid the heartland malls in the weekends and find respite in the airport terminals where there’s plenty of space for the kids to run, lots of restaurants which we don’t need to queue to eat at, and GST-free shopping. We weren’t always like that, of course, but as we got older, we just felt that life is too short to be wasting time doing unproductive things like queuing up. If we needed to pay more to save on time, we would. If we had to queue to get something free, we’d rather not. Yes, not even if they were giving out free handphones and iPads. Or houses. Or cars. But I digress.

So it appears that our kids have taken after us in that way.

I won priority passes to the Drypers Little Day Out at East Coast from the giveaway at Daphne’s blog  and thought it would be nice to take the kids out to a carnival to have some fun before I officially start work on Monday. So when I told the kids that we would be going to a carnival, they were all yay and hooray; but when we arrived there, they started looking like the Grinch stole Christmas. They didn’t want to queue for the kiddy rides or the carnival games. At the bouncy castles, Ben asked me if I could make all the other children go away so he could play. They didn’t share the enthusiasm other kids had for chasing bubbles. They headed to find open spaces and stood there to watch the crowd, mostly for the one hour we were there. I actually had to tell Ben and Becks that we would go home if they continued to be so grumpy to get them to ride the carousel.

There you have it, signs of crowd aversion, just like their parents. I’m sure other kids had much fun, going on unlimited rides (they were free), playing carnival games, eating popcorn and cotton candy (they were free too), dancing with Alvin and the Chipmunks and watching the outdoor movie screening Chipwrecked.

Mine were just grouchy, until dinner time at a quiet restaurant. Only then were they back to their usual selves – when away from the crowd.





Becks Kao Milestones and growing up The darndest kid quotes and antics

Being two

June 23, 2012

My daughter has officially entered the Terrible Two one month shy of her second birthday, and not a day goes by without fighting epic battles of wills with her. She’s learning to assert her independence and testing the boundaries so much so that bathing / feeding / changing / sleeping has become struggles between me and her on a daily basis. She would choose what to wear and the colour of spoon to eat with. And if she decides to sit on her diaper-filled poop today, she is so going to.  She would not have you shampoo her hair if she doesn’t feel like getting it wet, and trust me, she if you so decide to get her out of bed to go out. She will lie in bed for as long as she wants, and any attempt to pry her away from her bolster and carrying her from the bed will result in a fit so hissy you’d rather go find a hole and bury yourself. When she has her tantrums, she can wail non-stop for more than half an hour and no amount of talking sense and cajoling can make her stop. I have videos to prove that she can cry and scream at the top of her lungs for that long.

And to make matters worse, she has night terrors. They started when she was about 14 months old. She has been sitting up and crying inconsolably at regular intervals nightly for a while now, usually about three to four times between 11pm and 5am. And the past week has been hell. She yelled the house down while in her semi-conscious state at least five times in the night. She had a viral fever the week before and I’m pretty sure it could have been the reason for the excessive partial night wakings.

So I have no respite, day and night.

This is Becks after three tantrums today. She refused to wear the pretty jumper I prepared for her and when I attempted to put it on, she kicked and fussed and shrieked. That was the first. When I finally decided that I was not willing to die on this hill in this battle and allowed her to choose what she wanted to wear, she chose her brother’s t-shirt. I said no, and wailing started all over again. That was the second. When she finally stopped, there were mucous and tears all over her face. I cleaned her up and made her drink some water. She refused to drink, and that started her third outburst. She was promptly sent to the naughty corner. When she finally calmed down, I allowed her to choose what she wanted to wear, with the exception of her brother’s clothes.

She wanted to be pink from head to toe.

I almost fainted.


Family life as we know it The Kao Kids Thunderstorm days

My week in numbers

June 15, 2012

40: the reading on the thermometer in degree Celsius on Monday night when Ben had a viral fever

10: number of times Becks woke up this week to ask for milk in the middle of the night (twice nightly for the past five days)

5: average number of times my son coughs into my face a day

3: average number of times Ben and Becks fight over nothing in a day

2 and 387: number of days before Nat starts infantcare and number of times my heart ached this week at the thought of it

I didn’t have a great week and I’m dreading the next. Come Monday, this mother will be crying buckets as she sends her littlest to a place where Mama is no longer his world and his everything. He will meet new caregivers and have to learn how to drink from the bottle, somehow. A good deal of crying and starving might follow.

My heart is aching so bad now. My baby will be searching for Mama and I won’t be there!

Excuse me while I go and dry my tears.

Becks Kao Ben Kao Going Out! The Kao Kids

Hokey Pokey Fun

June 14, 2012

Last week the husband told me he wanted to go to the PC Show. IT Show, PC Show, Comex, Sitex… I can never figure out what’s the difference, and why men would love to be found in crazy fairs like these. He said he would zip in to get something real quick, and I could go walk about Suntec City with the kids.

I decided not to walk about because there is no way any walking will happen with two toddlers. They run. And touch things. And do funny things. Like sit on the floor in the middle of nowhere when they are tired.

So I whisked them to the new indoor playground at Level 3 which I’ve read about in some mommy blogs.

Hokey Pokey was a little different from the indoor playgrounds my kids have been to. Unlike the usual helter-skelter, gym-like play structures that involve plenty of climbing, sliding, rolling and running, kids can actually sit still to play at Hokey Pokey. In my opinion, they’ve cheated a fair bit – the only bit that qualifies the place as an indoor playground was the soft structured slide – the rest were all masak masak, Little Tikes rides and educational toys. Hokey Pokey divides the area into the Pretend Play section, Discovery Corner, Interactive Play area and Music Corner. I wasn’t too impressed, to be honest; twenty-five bucks per kid for something my kids would get Mondays to Fridays at their daycare, and weekends at home, plus having to share all the masak masak with a lot more other children than those in their playgroup at daycare. At least in school, they play with children their age. Because this place admits kids six months to six years, my daughter had to put up with two older girls bossing her around and telling her she wasn’t allowed to touch this and that when she was trying to bake me a chicken / pour me some ketchup / serve me a pizza at the little cooking corner. She was constantly terrorised by other kids who would snatch her donuts and pots and plates. In school, if this ever happened, I’m sure it would have been a teachable moment. Unfortunately, most kids there were accompanied by their domestic helpers, so you can imagine that they themselves were also busy making new friends all around.

Nonetheless, Ben and Becks enjoyed themselves. I made fatherkao wear the baby to the PC Show, which got many heads a-turning, and so he claimed, so I was free to have pretend tea with my daughter and watch my son stack colourful birthday cakes. I also watched my daughter cook and my son explore wooden trains and musical instruments.

I did feel a little silly to be paying money to do so though. We do this all the time at home. But at least the husband got his shopping fix.

More details:
  • Hokey Pokey is at Suntec City Mall, Level 3-027E/F. next to the Groupon Store.
  • Opening hours: 10 am – 7 pm from Sunday to Thursday and 10 am – 9 pm on Friday and Saturday
  • Admission is $25 on weekends per kid for two-hour play and $15 for unlimited play on weekdays. Members get discounted rates. One accompanying adult per child only.
  • The place is well-maintained and the staff ensured the kids and adults sanitised their hands. I saw them cleaning and scrubbing after the bubble play. There is also a diaper change table for babies, lockers for bags and some seats for the adults who want to kid-watch.


Ben Kao Milestones and growing up The Kao Kids

Farewell, my bunk bed

June 11, 2012

I’ve shared a little on how tough it has been trying to train the kids to sleep on their own.

Just that very night after I posted, fatherkao had a terrible time co-sleeping with Ben and Becks. He has had many nights of terribleness so far and it seems to be getting worse. Becks would have her witching hour nightly and it usually happens between 2 and 4 am. As for Ben, he would wake his father up religiously at 1.30am and ask if he could sleep with him. If fatherkao says no, he would sit on the floor and be really stoned out, looking pitiful and all, so usually the father says yes and they would be vying for space on the sofa bed.

And every morning fatherkao would wake up looking like a truck’s ran all over him. I think his eye circles are darker than mine. Already I’m waking up a few times in the night nursing the baby, who is having growth spurts.

Which was why he announced yesterday with no sentimentality whatsoever that we are getting rid of the fire engine bunk bed. No more funky stuff in the room. We’re gonna have to lay mattresses on the floor and everyone can all huddle like refugees. Don’t need to compete for space, don’t need to worry who would fall off the bed, don’t need to force the kids to stay, and sleep, on their beds.

So we’re saying goodbye. It was good while it lasted.


Ben Kao Going Out!

My mother, my Science teacher

June 6, 2012

I cannot teach my children Science. Or Maths, but that will be for another post another day.

Last weekend, we decided to go to the Bukit Timah Saddle Club, have breakfast at Riders Cafe and look at horses. I wanted to open Ben’s eyes to the equestrian world.

I’ve always been fascinated with the art of horse riding. I’ve never been on a horse and it has been my dream to. As a little girl, many a nights have been spent dreaming of riding a black handsome stallion and being able to steeplechase and play polo. But I soon learnt, as I grew up, that the equestrian world is a rich world only for the elite few, and my hopes of donning a sexy pair of jodhpurs and leather riding boots and reining a horse soon melted like butter on a hot day.

But still, I love horses. And I’d thought this would be a great chance to teach Ben something about them. And get him to sit on the saddle, riding a real one, instead of putting a one-dollar coin each time we see a horsey kiddy ride.

So we walked around the stables and I taught him that domesticated horses are those we can ride; that horses have hooves and manes; that a baby horse is called a foal; that they graze by biting off grass and other vegetation.

I would have loved to tell him more: that these majestic creatures move with four basic gaits (and the coolest is the gallop!); that they are intelligent mammals with excellent spatial discrimination abilities; that the Bedouins were the first people who bred extensive pedigrees of Arabian horses. But I will save that for a later time.

He got quite excited when I told him he’d get to ride a pony. All I needed to do was to pay ten bucks. And then he asked, “What’s a pony, Mama?”

And I replied, “It’s a baby horse.”

Stop it, I know you’re laughing at me right now. Because I’ve been an ignorant fool who probably slept through all the science lessons in primary school. I didn’t even know I had taught my son the wrong stuff. And he went round yelling “I’m gonna ride a baby horse!” all through breakfast at Riders Cafe.

Until fatherkao came to my rescue and told him that a pony is a small horse, alright; but not a baby horse. A horse is a horse because of its height. A pony is under an approximate height at the withers (the tallest point of the body of a four-legged mammal), and like a horse, there are many different breeds of ponies. It is certainly not a foal. And it is not another horse breed.

He also told me in the car I had better not teach Ben science-related stuff when he goes to primary school.

Agree totally.

More details:
  • Pony rides at Bukit Timah Saddle Club on Sundays (10am – 1pm) for $10. The BTSC website says Saturdays and Sundays but we chatted with the people there and they said they won’t be doing this on Saturdays anymore, starting this month.
  • Breakfast at Riders Cafe: Be prepared to wait 30 – 45 minutes for a table if you’re walking in. I couldn’t get a reservation for a month! And I tried booking through CHOPE and there seems to be no way to get a table online for breakfast for the next few months. Breakfast there was great, but not worth the wait if you find the weather a little too humid.
  • The other restaurant to try is The Marmalade Pantry. I hear their cupcakes are fantastic. Will be trying the next time we’re there.