Monthly Archives

September 2012

Family life as we know it Mommy guilt

The return of Mommy guilt

September 27, 2012

I never thought much about the middle child syndrome until I had a middle child. Yes, the one that’s born after the firstborn and before the baby. The one who would sometimes feel unloved and uncared for, being sandwiched in between. The one who feels dethroned as the baby of the family.

It’s not been easy handling my middle child. She’s one interesting babe. She plays with abandonment, laughs and cries at the same time and can go insanely wild and happy for no particular reason. But she’s also prone to tantrums, tempers and outbursts, and she bites, hits and throws things whenever she gets upset.

It’s been even tougher to deal with the realisation that what I see in my little girl is the exact replica of what I am, deep down truly. That same stubborn streak. That irrationality that doesn’t listen to logic. That strongheadedness. She’s angsty and feisty — just like me. It’s ironic that faced with a person like myself, I am at a loss as to how to handle her, train her and demonstrate love towards her. Maybe it’s because I don’t even know how to handle myself sometimes.

So last night, after an eventful evening of six tantrums from the little girl and a few whackings, some unkind words and table-banging from me, Becks announced she wanted to find her teacher at daycare and proceeded to bawl for her. She said she didn’t want any of us anymore (no, not even her father, brother and baby brother) and even put on her shoes and stood at the door. I opened the gate and she actually stepped out! I kept asking why she wanted the teacher and not us, but all she could do was cry. It was when I told her that I will not follow her because I belonged to this house, and she shouldn’t go because she belonged here as well, that she came back home and allowed me to hold her and hug her. I told her I loved her very much, but all she did was shook her head profusely.

Then, I asked her, “Becks, who does Mama love?”

Her answer to me last night was enough to send my heart into a wrenching spasm of sorts. She answered, “Kor Kor and Di Di“.

All I could think of in bed last night was what a bad, bad mother I’ve been.

My dear Becks, I really love you. You’re my little princess and you’re treasured more than you think you are. I know Mama hasn’t been all that kind and tender towards you and you have been feeling like you are always left out and unloved. It’s not true. Mama is also learning to deal with the host of intense emotions that comes with being your Mama!

Mama doesn’t only love Kor Kor and Di Di. You’re loved too and I hope you will believe that.

Homelearning fun The Kao Kids

Homeschooling my kids one lesson at a time

September 27, 2012

The plan to stay home and homeschool the kids has been more or less firmed up and I am mentally prepping myself everyday. I won’t be yelling “Bring it on!” yet, but I am working at it slowly, running trial lessons with the kids in the evenings when I return from work.

I received the Hands-on Homeschooling curriculum I ordered from the States, and started on the two-year-old curriculum after going through (and digesting) the four hundred-page folder. This month, we read about Jesus multiplying five loaves of bread and two fish and learned what it means to be thankful. We also traced straight and curvy lines, first with our fingers, then with a crayon. The kids practised drawing straight lines with a ruler (I seriously didn’t know this had to be taught) and coloured fishes, balls and insects.

I also did up a little gallery in the living room to showcase the kids’ work.

Don’t let me fool you. It’s not as easy as it sounds. I have to admit, it has been tough doing this homeschooling-lesson gig. For one, I am sorely lacking in the patience department and I spend most of my time having to deal with my inability to handle my emotions of being frustrated and annoyed by the kids. I’m so used to engagement of the intellectual kind that I often forget that children need a lot of affirmation, compliments and repetition. Plus, I have to very purposefully differentiate the lesson for Ben and Becks. Ben is three-half and Becks just turned two, so development-wise, they are at different milestones, learning and accomplishing different things. I have to constantly deal with one or the other getting disinterested, unengaged and seeking attention, while at the same time keeping my temper in check and being generous with praise when some parts of the task are being completed. Add to that, the baby is often hungry and needing the Mama-touch in the evenings because he still dislikes drinking from the bottle at daycare — and you’ll see a mad woman in the house thinking to herself this is just mission impossible.

But I’m glad that the kids would always look forward to the next lesson cos’ whenever they see me go into the study, they would go “Are we having lessons now, Mama?”, and I would always make a mental note to myself that this Mama can do better as their teacher the next time.

I can't categorise such entries

May you find some comfort here

September 24, 2012

The blog’s been silent for a while because it has been difficult to write.

Someone dear has lost someone dear; and I am, in my own ways, grieving for her loss.

I think it’s just incredibly painful to say goodbye to someone whom you know you can love forever.

Ben Kao The darndest kid quotes and antics

Rock-a-bye-baby’s desperate mommy

September 17, 2012

Picture from

My three-year-old and I have been conversing every night lately. While I nurse my six-month-old infant, Ben would snuggle close to me and start a conversation. He asks me questions about what it’s like to be on a plane, why people fight wars and how flowers grow. I’m always amazed at how much he knows and even more amazed by how much he wants to know. That hunger for knowledge to satisfy all the “whys” in his head is truly impressive.

So just a few nights ago, he asked me to sing him a lullaby. He specifically requested for Rock-a-bye-baby. I didn’t think much of the request, so I started to sing. To my surprise, he stopped me after every line to ask me what each line meant. What do you mean by on the treetop, Mama? Why would the wind blow? Why would the bough break? Why would the baby come down with the cradle?

He practically analysed the whole song like I would in prac crit for my Lit papers. He didn’t do it with academic intentions (no, he’s only three!) but for the one sole purpose of asking me this question:

“Where is the baby’s mama, Mama? Why would she leave the baby there? AND to let him fall?” My three-year-old is traumatised by rock-a-bye-baby’s irresponsible mother.

For the purpose of this post, I googled the history of the song and found out why mommies would leave their babies on the treetop. Native American women rocked their babies in birch bark cradles, which were suspended from the higher branches of a tree, allowing the wind to shake the infant to sleep. [Source & picture from]

Gonna have to tell Ben that the babies probably gave their mommies hell for not sleeping, which explains why these mommies would be desperate enough to put them on the branch of a tree!

Going Out! The Kao Kids

Zoo: Default place to go if it doesn’t rain

September 15, 2012

We’ve been making good use of our zoo family membership to zip in and out of the zoo for one to two hours on weekday afternoons and weekend mornings. My eldest son, would lead the pack, by deciding which exibits he wished to see for each visit.

So far, we’ve had breakfast with Ah Meng’s descendants

Said hello to the parrots at every visit

Watched Stan the Sealion somersault and splash around

Gone on horsey rides and learned the difference between horses, ponies and falabellas


We can’t wait for Kai Kai and Jia Jia (not just because I can point out the similarity between them and me) so we can see some real kungfu panda moves!


Everyday fun! Product Reviews

More stix-ky fun [and a discount code for you]

September 15, 2012

I posted some time ago about how my kids made little crawlies out of the Wikki Stix Mini Play Pak sent to us.

I left the Wikkis at our bomb shelter and told them to fiddle with them to create whatever their imagination takes them whenever they want; and when I last checked, this was what I saw:

Something about a monster having his heart locked up in a box. Uh-ok…

*Good news for readers of this blog*: You can now enjoy a 10% discount off any online purchase of Wikki Stix this month. Just quote the discount code Blog1209 upon checking out. They deliver worldwide with no minimum purchase. There are Wikkis in 3 lengths: 6 inch, 8 inch and 3 feet-long ones called Super Wikkis! Check out Wikki Stix here.

Milestones and growing up The Kao Kids The real supermom What to Expect... As a Mother

Bye bye sleep training, bring on co-sleeping

September 11, 2012

The marriage bed has lost its sanctity. I thought I could preserve it, but alas. I have also officially lost the battle in sleep training.

Everyone’s now on our bed, in our room, every night; while fatherkao sleeps alone in the children’s room. So much for buying fancy bunk beds and cartoon bedsheets. For the kids, it’s not what they sleep on, but who they sleep with that matters.

So for a while now, we’re all sleeping in the master bedroom. Tuck-ins start at 9pm. Baby’s on my chest, Ben’s on my left and Becks is on my right. They fall asleep after a lot of nagging and threatening (of Mr Cane coming) from me.

We’ve managed to squeeze a toddler bed from IKEA and a toddler mattress on the floor in the master bedroom to accommodate everyone, so by 10pm when they all fall asleep, I shift everyone into position: Ben sleeps on the floor, Becks sleeps on the bed next to mine, and I sleep with the baby. Like this:


But with this arrangement, I shuttle around the room every night on a three hourly basis on good nights and an hourly basis on bad ones.

12am: Ben discovers he is alone on the floor. He gets up and cries. I awake (usually with great annoyance) and pat him to sleep in the little corner where his mattress is. On good nights, he sleeps through and gets over the fact the mother-presence is a metre away. On bad ones, he wakes up again and crawls onto the bed to search for my armpit and snuggles under it. Don’t ask me why. I think he feels very tucked in and safe under it.

2.39am: Baby Nat stirs and looks for the mother-presence, usually with his rooting reflex in full gear, ready to suckle for comfort. I indulge his bad, bad habit. Since going to infantcare, he has had the sniffles frequently and my heart has been broken so many times to see him ill. And so he suckles, left and right and right and left, all night long. And by the way, I do the moving from left to right and right to left – the baby doesn’t.

4.58am: Becks whines and asks for milk. Her night wakings have become less frequent, so on good nights she usually wakes up at this time to ask for milk. Some nights I ignore her and she falls asleep again. Some nights I roll over to her bed and hold her tight and speak to her in a soft voice telling her to wait till it’s “wakey wakey” time. Some nights she badgers till the baby wakes up and Ben starts stirring, and I do a shuttle run and make her milk at the fastest possible speed to stop her from crying the house down. Some nights she gives me hell even before this time with her night terror screams and I’m like running from one corner of the room to the other in a semi-conscious state making sure everyone is ok. During those nights, if they all wake up in shock and can’t go back to sleep, I gather everyone like a mother hen and we all huddle on the bed.

6.20am: Time for motherkao to wake up

My night duty applies for both weekdays and weekends. I’d thought if I delay tuck-ins a little later on weekends, the kids would probably be knocked out and not have me perform this running about in a groggy state, but boy was I wrong about that.

I’m severely sleep deprived. I’m so glad Kai Kai and Jia Jia are coming soon. I hear they are on a ten-year loan from China. Tis’ great cos’ for the next ten years of my life I will bring my kids to the zoo and teach them personification with illustrations: my mother is a panda.

Getting all sentimental now Milestones and growing up The Kao Kids

Life’s too short not to…

September 7, 2012
Life’s too short not to be running in the fields
And feeling the dew under the skin on your toes
Life’s too short not to be having a splashing good time
In the rain
Life’s too short not to be making a mess
And then some more
Life’s too short not to be blowing soap bubbles
In a tub full of suds in a room filled with laughter
Life’s too short not to be snuggling a minute more
Together on Mama and Papa’s bed
Life’s too short not to be twirling around
And dancing to another song
Someday, my love, you’ll grow up
And life’s too short to be wishing we’ve done more of these things with you
(Self) Examination Getting all sentimental now Milestones and growing up The Kao Kids

How motherhood has changed me

September 5, 2012

When Justina ( invited moms from the SMB group to reflect and share how motherhood has changed us, I was hesitant to answer the call to contribute a guest post for her blog. I mean, motherhood has changed me in so many ways. There’s the lack of sleep, the ability to swallow food whole, and the power of holding everything in, if you know what I mean – from your own pee to the frustration of being driven up the wall the 95th time. And then there’s the I-became-a-more-efficient-and-competent-person kind of change. At least for me, I have bragging rights of being able to nurse an infant, sing lullabies to my toddlers and use my toes to scroll the iPad to read my e-magazine, all at the same time. Motherhood has helped me discover powers I never knew I had, such as the untapped potential of using my toes and elbows to perform many a circus act every day.

Nevertheless, I eventually decided to take up the challenge to do a little bit more reflecting. Three years as a mom is no mean feat. I know I have indeed changed. Perhaps this opportunity to reflect would help me discover what it means to be a mother and who I’ve become today, and to give me a clearer direction on how to soldier on this challenging journey.

And it did. Justina featured me in her blog today. You can read the entry here and join us as we celebrate a month of motherhood. You can also hop around her blog to read other posts by mothers whose lives have been radically changed by just being moms. [Thanks, Jus, for the opportunity].

This post is my most honest piece yet.


Before I became a mother, I was a prissy, stuck-up, pain in the ass. I had an attitude. I thought the world of myself and very little of others. I was driven, demanding, and a no-nonsense kind of person.

I did some things I was proud of: I wake-boarded; I scuba-dived. As an undergraduate, I worked at a prestigious lifestyle mag and interned at a dive magazine. My boss sent me to Australia to market his magazine at a dive symposium. I shook hands with cool people from the diving circle. When I got married, I went backpacking with the husband. We travelled to Italy, Vienna, Czech Republic and Hungary. We explored quaint towns, and stayed with the locals and at youth hostels. We made friends from all over the world over beer, coffee and goulash.

I’d like to think I was pretty accomplished before I had kids.

Today, I no longer dive, wakeboard or backpack. I bake. And cook. I change poopy diapers, clean mucous and sing lullabies. Along the motherhood journey, I’ve lost my cool, blown my top, terrified the galls out of them, complained, murmured, and done all of the above on a repeated basis. I’ve failed too many tests of endurance and the willingness to sacrifice. Along the way, I have also crushed them with some of the most horrid things I’ve ever said, and treated them way too impatiently, emotionally and unfairly. In short, of the three years of being mom, I’ve made quite a mess of the whole process.

But I’ve also watched, as the days go by, how my heart is slowly transformed by just being my children’s mother in the everyday. I’d like to think that having gone through three pregnancies, three deliveries and now, mothering three very different, but unique individuals, motherhood has changed me for the better. In the good and the bad of everyday parenting, my children have molded my heart and invited me to experience God in ways deeper than I’ve ever imagined.

Being a mother has taught me that it’s ok to make a mess. I’ve learned to admit my mistakes, deal with my guilt and move on; more quickly and steadily than before I was a mom. I learned that children can be very forgiving. And above all else, I’ve learned that God the Father extends his forgiveness and love ever more readily to me now. He stops me from beating myself up, takes me into His loving arms and tells me “Liz, it’s ok”.

Being a mother has taught me to draw parameters for my anger and to pursue love at all cost. To channel my emotional energy at the right places, for the right things and towards the right people. It’s impossible to be a parent without feeling a host of intense emotions, but it’s definitely possible to lean on His grace to handle the trickier ones. Best of all, God has shown me that as my Heavenly Father, He has pursued me with love at all cost. And as a mother, I have the best example to follow and model after.

Being a mother has taught me what really matters in life. All of a sudden, when you become a mother, you possess the amazing ability to differentiate between futility and priority. I began to realize that life is brief, and that there remains the absolute need to live for the now and to leave an influence and impact so great for my children for the future. So I learned to be more efficient to exchange for more time with them. I learned that character matters. Imparting values matters. Being a better me matters. Ben making funny sounds with his tongue does not. Becks kicking off her shoes in the car does not. The kids making a paper cut-out mess and flinging shreds and gravel from the fish tank into their baby brother’s cot does not. In the grander scheme of things, even though they may be annoying, it’s just futility to be sweating the small stuff.

And last of all, being a mother has taught me to see the beauty in the small things. Where once upon a time I was a way-too-busy-to-smell-the-roses kind of person, today, I’ll give anything to kiss my children’s little feet, stroke their hair and put my finger in their tiny hands. They’ve taught me to stop, take a deep breath, and listen to the ambient sounds: that little sigh, that gurgling chuckle, that inaudible whimper. I’ll put my nose close to Nat’s mouth just so I can take in the smell of his baby breath. I’ll whisper into Ben’s ear just to see him wriggle away, tickled and laughing. And I would peck Becks on her chubby cheek just to watch her break into a coy little grin. I learned that I am mother and I am not too busy to enjoy my children.

In motherhood, I’ve learned to lose my attitude. That attitude. I don’t think I’m so prissy and stuck-up anymore, although it’s really still a journey and I’m very much a piece of work-in-progress. But I wouldn’t change anything. Without my kids, I wouldn’t be who I am today; and I am happier to be me now than me then.

How has motherhood changed me? My children have cut me open. That has allowed God to do something to my heart. They’ve added a profound dimension to my life in which I will continue to discover as long as I am their mother.

Motherhood has made me a better person.