Monthly Archives

July 2012

Ben Kao Milestones and growing up Motherkao loves... Nat Kao

You’ll always have a place in my heart

July 31, 2012

These are my boys.

My firstborn and my littlest. Amidst the challenges I’ve been facing with their sister, the middle child, they’ve been the loveliest and most patient to have around. They wait their turn to get Mama, they play by themselves and with each other. Ben, my eldest, always has a smile on his face, a skip in his step and a question to ask. He follows instructions, listens to good reason and shows his love for the people in the house in his own little ways.

Baby Nat has been having a viral infection with a bad combination of mild fever, runny nose and whooping cough. He’s been wakeful every possible hour because it’s been just hard to go to sleep with a cough as bad as his. And yet, he always, always, always has a little grin on his face for anyone who asks how he is doing.

These are the two sweetest babies a mother would ever know.

Becks Kao Happy days What to Expect... As a Mother

It’s my party and I cry if I want to

July 31, 2012

The little girl has officially turned two.  Most of you know I’ve been having quite a challenging time with her. Ever since she was born, she was this screamy bundle that wouldn’t give a hoot about the time and place to let her wails out. When she was a baby, at least I had a pacifier. Now that she’s 24 months, it’s hard to stop her from her crying crescendos. At 24 months, she still doesn’t give a hoot about the time and place. Just this week alone, she threw hissy fits in the lift, at the lift lobby at our flat and in the carpark. She also tortured me and the baby at night by crying and kicking hourly, and into the wee hours of the morning. It would have been perfectly fine by me if she whimpered like a baby; but unfortunately she usually yells her lungs out and we end up having to shut the windows to save ourselves from being stoned by the neighbours. Oh yes, she also bit me on my left leg when she got angry with me for trying to put her to bed.

Her turning two has left me feeling a sense of anticipation and dread. I’m hoping things with her will get better soon enough. Or will it?

We had a celebration for her in school on Friday. We got her excited way before this day came and asked her what she wanted for her cake about three weeks before her birthday. She was into penguins then, so she quickly said “Penguin!” and I got Debbie ( to customise a healthy, pretty Penguin cake for her celebration (read how she made the cake). We arrived at the school early hoping to surprise the little girl with this gorgeous creation, and pretty colouring-book-and-pencils party packs we had painstakingly packed the week before.

But when she came to the dining area, her royal highness was looking like the grumps. She obviously threw a fit before coming in. Her teachers said she didn’t want to wake up from her nap. She saw me and started sobbing.

Despite the clowning around by her father and brother and cuddles from me, Little Miss Grumpy still wasn’t excited, or even look it. We went ahead with the celebration anyway. A hundred marks for the loveliest big brother of the century who tried to twit around her to make her laugh. Needless to say, our birthday star couldn’t care for it.

Finally, after some time, it suddenly hit her that it was her birthday. And that she was gonna have cake! That was when she finally smiled.

The cake was the best part of the party. It was uber yummy and wholesome. Chunks of banana and cinnamon and generous toppings of cream cheese. Not too sugary. Not too heavy. The children all ate with a smile on their faces. Becks’ bestie, KM, had three helpings! The birthday girl and her brother licked off the penguin’s eyes, nose and pink ribbon.

Finally. At last, my darling was happy.

She also got a party pack for her dainty self that reads “Thank you for being a part of my 2nd birthday celebration“. Thank you, my dear girl, for being a part of your own birthday celebration. I was so afraid you were gonna sulk throughout!


Milestones and growing up The darndest kid quotes and antics Thunderstorm days

Terrific Terrible Two

July 25, 2012

These days I’ve been struggling to keep afloat.

While I would like to keep some things that are going on in my life private, I can, however, share how terrible it has been with Becks in her Terrible Two phase. Apart from being grumpy and sullen and constantly challenging authority, my little girl has been smacking her brother, biting him and pulling his hair. She bosses him around and bullies him silly. Even Mr Cane and time-out have no effect on her. On good days, she’d say sorry eventually, but on bad ones, she wouldn’t give a heck whether she was disciplined. Suffice to say, her stubborn streak is certainly driving me up the wall.

I’ll be very honest. On some days, even loving her has been tough. I do love her. And very much for that matter. But when she acts up, it’s just very hard. I’ve lost my patience with her so many times. Her hissy fits and tantrums drain every ounce of energy in me.

I need to keep in mind that she’ll be reading this someday and that this phase shall eventually pass. I sure hope it will be ok soon so that I can stop feeling drained and totally bummed out.

My dear baby girl, you’re turning two in five days. I’m sure we’ll get through this together. It’ll also be Terrific Two, yes?

The darndest kid quotes and antics

Once a kid, always a kid

July 20, 2012

Last night, I had a very deep conversation with my three-year-old. It went something like this:

Ben: Mama, do ah ma and gonggong (referring to his maternal grandparents) have children ?

Me: Yes, dear. Me, yeeyee and jiu jiu (referring to my siblings) are their children.

Ben: (with some frustration) No, they have children or not?

Me: Yes. That’s us – me, the firstborn, followed by yeeyee, who’s the second, and jiu jiu, who’s the baby of the family.

Ben: You, yeeyee and jiu jiu are babies?

Me: No, we are adults.

Ben: Then you’re also children?

Me: We’re not little children, like how you understand “children”; but yea, we’re ah ma‘s kids.

Ben: You’re kids? Or adults?

By then, I realised where this was heading. Ben was confused by the fact that we were adults but also children of our parents. He couldn’t grasp that. To him, babies were babies, children were children, and adults were adults.

How do you explain to a child that no matter how old you are, you’ll always be someone’s kid?

So I said:

Me: Son, children can mean little children, and also the fact that you’re someone’s son or daughter. Like you’re my son. You’ll always be my son. You’ll always be my child. No matter how old you are.


I hugged him real tight and smooched him silly last night. This will be one conversation I will remember for the rest of my life. Largely because the understanding that when you have a kid, you have a kid for life, took on a deeper meaning. I know that even when Ben turns fifty, he will always occupy that place in my heart, as my child.

Ben, if you’re reading this at twenty, you’re still very much Mama’s baby, k?

Getting all sentimental now

Letter to my littlest #02

July 17, 2012

Dear Nat,

You’re four months, coming to five now and you’ve been flipping with every chance you’ve got.

You’ve started to take some semi-solids and how you love your porridge! You’ve had close to fifteen days of green mucousy stools and Mama’s brought you to a few doctors the past two weeks. They told me not to take any more dairy products and to start you on some porridge. You love it so much you wave in excitement and shriek whenever you see the spoon. You savour every mouthful. It must be the next best thing to Mama’s milk.

You’re endearing and way too adorable. You hardly cry. You sleep through the night. You smile at everyone who smiles at you and melt their hearts. The clinic assistants and random people in the lifts have all been charmed. When you had a blistered bum, you handled it like a man. You’re one tough cookie. Your teachers in infantcare love you to bits and can’t get enough of you. You gurgle and beam all day and reserve your widest grin for me. You’ve laughed. You’ve sighed. You’ve squealed. For me, and with me.

You’re my happiest baby yet. Of all the three babies I’ve had, you’re the most responsive, most chuckly, and the most charming. You are such a dear. And you know what? I think I’m going to love you forever.

Affectionately yours,


Family life as we know it Happy days The Kao Kids

Two loaves, sixteen cupcakes and a happy weekend

July 15, 2012

The car’s at the mechanic till Tuesday, so we were all home bound this weekend.

For the first time, we didn’t have to crack our heads to think of where to go for breakfast / lunch / dinner, or where to head to so our kids can have their energies expended. We told the kids the car’s not available, so we’d have to make the most of the weekend at home.

And so they did. They played with toy cars, rowed imaginary boats, blew soap bubbles, clowned around with Nat’s rattles, read books, solved puzzles (we finally got down to using the Grolier Logico Primo system) and watched the terrapins chomp down all the fish in the tank (yes, by Sunday there was zero fish). They also played peek-a-boo with their baby brother and hide-and-seek with each other, and helped me crack eggs, mix batter and measured flour. I churned out a total of two loaves of bread, one with whole wheat and one with organic wholemeal, using the bread machine, a dozen lemon muffins and four more with Koko Krunch, and a loaf of bluberry yogurt sponge. And since we couldn’t go to Pasta Mania at Terminal Three, which we do every weekend to satisfy Ben’s creamy pasta fix, I also made kickass angelhair Alfredo with pure cream, cheese and lots of streaky bacon and honey baked ham.

Very satisfying, for a mother who relieves stress by baking and cooking.

But what made the weekend a truly happy one was that I was eternally grateful we spent it as a family; and that Daddy came home. The reason why the car’s with the mechanic was because the car skidded on a puddle of oil while fatherkao was making the bend on the e’way on a rainy Saturday morning. The bumper crashed into the barricade on the road shoulder and the car spun three-sixty. But God’s angels protected fatherkao and kept him snug in the car. He was unscathed and unhurt despite the damage.

You have no idea how thankful I was to be able to snap this at bedtime:

Thank you, Jesus.

Everyday fun!

Eh, fishy fishy

July 9, 2012

I think we spoil our kids silly. First we got them an extensive road system (actually it’s really for fatherkao and Ben). Now they have an aquarium.

On Saturday we went to Kid’s Kampong at Pasir Ris Farmway. It was Becks’ first longkang fishing experience and Ben’s second. He went there with his schoolmates last year and had a smashin’ good time. His stories of scooping fish, feeding rabbits, turtles and ducks went on for days after that school trip. He’s been asking if he could go again since last year, so we decided we should make a trip there as a family to check the place out.

At the longkang fishing area, the kids were excited with the idea that they could catch their own fish. They went round chasing the fish with their tiny fishing nets. But the guppies and swordtails were no fools. They were fast. So fast that after ten minutes of squealing, both Ben and Becks were pleading ‘Mama, catch the fish for me’. So guess who did most of the squatting, bending and strategizing.


After catching a miserable number of ten fish per bucket, my thighs were aching so bad, we had to stop and do something else. The kids went to feed the hungry koi-fish, bunnies, turtles, ducks and chickens. Actually only Ben was brave enough to go throw food at them. Becks shared my disinterest (and fear) of small animals, and was contented to just skip around the pond and pose for her photographer dad.

After lunch, I had this crazy idea to get terrapins to finish off the fish that we were bringing home (insert evil laughter), and fatherkao entertained my crazy idea by driving to Nanyang Aquarium at Seletar Farmway which was just a stone’s throw from our place to see what we might be able to get to house the fish since things are really cheap there and they are moving out at the end of the year. We ended up buying a glass tank, complete with a filter and LED-lamp, two terrapins, five-kilos of white gravel, a beautiful wooden log, a pot of water plant and a tin of krill to feed all the swimming ones.

The last I heard this morning from the observers of the fish tank was that the terrapins were too afraid and too small anyway, to be eating fish, and one pregnant guppy gave birth to a fry. Oh well, exciting times. Let’s see what this overcrowding would do to the inhabitants of the tank. For one, I’ve got science 101 covered for Ben and Becks.


  • Kid’s Kampong is at No. 11, Pasir Ris Farmway 1, Aqua Fauna Centre. It costs $10 for one child to enter the longkang fishing area and to fish for an hour. You’ll have to pay $4 for their bucket and fishing net. Because Ben has a net from the previous visit (he didn’t bring his bucket), he paid $2 for the bucket, on top of the ten bucks.
  • One adult goes in free with every child. For my helper to enter, we had to pay an additional $1 for her to sit around.
  • The admission fee comes with three packets of feed for the fish and small animals, and one packet of feed for the rabbits. You get to keep your longkang catch. If it’s too miserable, the uncle there would add in more fish for you to take home.
  • The kids got a bottle of mineral water and a cup of Paddle Pop ice-cream after their experience.
  • Nanyang Trading Aquarium @ Sea View Aquarium is at 2, Seletar Farmway 2. You can get everything related to aquarium fish from tanks to tubifex, as well as almost any type of tropical fish .
Ben Kao Everyday fun! Fatherkao loves... Happy days

Unfulfilled childhood dreams

July 9, 2012

This is what happens when my children’s father has unfulfilled childhood dreams.

He goes to Planet Toy, blows a couple of hundred on Takara Tomy’s diecast cars and tracks. He says he would never allow our sons to say ‘I’ve always wanted one of these, but never got them’.

I wished I’d taken a picture of my two boys, aged thirty-eight and three respectively, playing with cars; and a video of them making funny sounds when they play.

And I happen to also know my husband had always wanted a massive rail system, complete with diecast trains, and a Husky. Uh-oh.

Food, glorious food! Motherkao loves... The real supermom

Stressed is desserts spelled backwards

July 8, 2012

What do you do when you’re stressed out?

Some people go for a run. A friend of mine does yoga. My husband shuts himself out from the world and takes long baths.

I scrub toilets with a toothbrush. And bake.

It usually has to follow this order: I’ll need to vent my frustrations so whenever I feel stressed, I’ll typically be found scrubbing the tiles on bathroom walls and floors with an old toothbrush. I see grime, I begin cleaning with sheer brute force. Then I’ll feel much better. To complete the de-stressing, I ransack the larder to see what I have and bake something. Anything. There’s something calming about throwing butter, sugar, eggs and flour in a mixer and seeing batter turn into something pretty and yummy. It takes the edge off the stress, at least for me.

Now, with three kids, it’s much harder to perform this ritual. I’ve been so wound up lately. And it’s been so hard to move on without scrubbing the toilet and baking a cake.

So with the Youth Day holiday being a good break for me, I did what I needed to. I scrubbed. And I baked a cheesecake.

The cream cheese was left to soften at room temperature for three hours. The preparation took one hour and the baking took another. Then I left the cake in the oven to cool for another six; after which, the cake was refrigerated overnight. The recipe I used was easy to follow and the result was a mouth-watering slice of dessert everyday for the next one week.

Now to burn off the calories. Perhaps I could do with more toilet scrubbing.

Family life as we know it What to Expect... As a Mother

Three kids and not counting

July 4, 2012

I’ve heard them all and wouldn’t want to hear them again. Everywhere I go, people I meet see me with three kids and they ask if I’m going for the fourth. And when I say, no, thank you, they say why not, you’re so pro already, you should just have one more. They assume that just because I upload pictures of smiling children on my facebook, it means I have it all made and am having a smashing good time with three kids.

Not that there are no moments of smashing good times but I’m telling you, some days I think to myself: what the hell was I thinking, having three kids all at one go.

It’s really very, very tough. Even that is an understatement. Especially if you’re a hands-on mother and have no granny night care or weekend care. It’s even tougher, being a full-time working mom. There are no breaks, no date nights, no me-time. So I’ll state outright here that Come be the fly on my wall.

When it’s time to pick my kids from daycare after work everyday, my stomach churns – there’s a mix of excitement to see the kids, a sense of guilt for leaving them there for the last ten hours and a feeling of dread. Dread of meal hour, tuck-in hour and witching hour. The moment the gates of our flat are unlocked, it’s the cue for my kids to become whiny, sticky and completely incapable of following instructions. I know that’s supposed to be normal because they want my attention, having been deprived of it all day.

So every evening, Ben and Becks would whine non-stop to be carried, showered, fed and cuddled by me. The baby, having not seen me the whole day, is desperate for comfort from my boobs. I struggle to do the juggling act, trying to shove dinner, fruits and a little treat of jelly down their throats while nursing the baby. I try to read them books but the story would always be unfinished or interrupted. I say no all the time to Ben when he runs to me with activity packs of sand art, craft, sticker fun and join-the-dots, and end up feeling so guilty for not being able to do something with him. I break up fights eighty percent of my time in the evening. I run out of patience and lose my cool and sanity usually by 8pm. At night when they all need me for the tucking-in, I use one arm to hold and breastfeed the baby, one hand to hold my son’s hand because he needs to hold hands to fall asleep and one foot to pat my daughter. I take three-hour naps at night still, because Becks is still pulling her night terror stunts on me a nightly basis, complete with screams and ear-piercing shrieks. Doctors online and offline tell us that this is probably due to her need for more attention – she might not have had enough in the day, so she’s unconsciously waking up at night to get it. As of today, Baby Nat is in his tenth day of diarrhea. And with loose watery green stools eight to nine times daily, he’s got a blistered bum and a bad case of nappy rash, and I got a broken heart every time I change his diaper. To seal the deal, I’m totally exasperated communicating instructions to the helper who requires a repetition of anything I say at least five frigging times; some days it got so bad I ended up doing the thing I asked her to do myself – like preparing the baby’s bathwater or microwaving my food – because by the time I repeat myself five times, I might as well do what’s needed.

I know that in a larger scheme of things, this too shall pass and I will soon lament the lost years and cry my eyeballs out when my kids don’t need me like this anymore. I know that many people have it worse and they probably have to deal with problems bigger than mine and situations more dire than mine. I know that I ought to be thankful that we can at least afford a helper to do the never-ending bags of laundry, keep our house clean so we can be house-proud and wash the dishes so we can all hang out and spend family time together. I know I ought to be grateful that my tag team partner doesn’t complain whenever he gets tagged (and it’s very often) and supports me in every way possible, as much as he knows how. And I know, that God has given me three beautiful children, called me to a meaningful profession and I should really stop complaining and ranting like this.

For now, I am feeling totally inadequate, exhausted and overwhelmed. Please, somebody, tell me things will only get better.