Monthly Archives

October 2012

Close encounters with the maid kind

Maid Woes, Part 2

October 29, 2012

I am so angry. I was made a fool last weekend. This replacement maid whom I’ve sent back to the agent is probably kicking her heels off in her hometown now, sipping a nice cup of tea, laughing at me, the sucker she suckered in Singapore.

Why couldn’t I tell she had no intention to work? Why couldn’t I read her better? Why did I even trust the recommendation of the agent? I knew I couldn’t trust her right from day one – she had those shifty eyes that made me very wary – but I just couldn’t put a finger to how I really felt about this new person in the house. The signs were everywhere – unwillingness to follow instructions, never smiling at my children, trying too hard to please only when I was around – I was the fool to believe the best; that she was trying to adapt to working in a new environment and needed time to adjust. To be fair, it would be overwhelming for anyone to help out in a house with three adrenaline-charged kids.

So when I told her I was sending her back to the agent on Saturday, she broke down and cried. I asked her if she wanted to go home instead and she said yes. I could do two things: buy her an air ticket and send her home (but this means she had to stay for a few days more till I get all the documents processed and the air ticket settled) or send her back to the agent and get them to buy her an air ticket on my behalf. I chose the latter, because it was infuriating to have her around every minute. So I assured her I would tell the agent to buy her a ticket home. And for the first time, in six days, she smiled genuinely. And laughed. She even told my helper with such glee that she could finally go home.

So we went back to the agent and I paid her a month’s salary even though she “worked” only five days, and she’s off on a jet plane back home as of now, with this money. I’m thinking: did she maliciously stage this? Showing us such horribly lazy attitude just so she can worm her way out of here with a one-way air ticket fully paid for by the sucker that is me? I mean, these girls know that the moment they’ve found employment, no matter what, they would have to be paid 30 days’ worth of work even if the employers decide to return them to the agent, isn’t it? I knew I couldn’t trust those shifty eyes. And to think that I could have been used that way! It sure feels terrible to be suckered like that.

I have so many takeaways from this lesson: number one, the agent and domestic worker always stand to gain more than the employer, so from now on, I’m not gonna assume the best of everyone – this world is really the survival of the fittest and wittiest; and number two, the next domestic helper had better be able to look me in the eye for more than 20 seconds. Shift your eyes and I’ll stay clear of you. I’m not going to be your sucker anymore.

Close encounters with the maid kind

Maid Woes, Part 1

October 27, 2012

Having a good domestic helper in the house is like having three extra pairs of hands and legs that are intuitive, quick and nimble. My second maid from Myanmar is a godsend and has been, for the past one year. She started off not knowing English and what to do around children. She also vacuumed the soles of our shoes, washed two of my Tempur pillows (and subsequently made them totally unusable), and brought bedbugs into our house. But she’s got great attitude and such a tremendous sense of keenness and initiative.  She also takes pride in her work and has a spirit of excellence. She learned how to cook and take care of the baby from the confinement nanny after Nat was born. Because she cooks well, we look forward to going home for  home-cooked food everyday.

Unfortunately, she is also going home. If you’ve read this blog in April, you would remember that I brought her to see an ENT specialist for the pain in her ear. The problem didn’t go away; in fact it’s worsened and gotten so bad this girl is getting dizzy and woozy. I’ve brought her for reviews, sought a second opinion from another ENT specialist, and even taken her for TCM treatment. No one knows what’s wrong. The specialists couldn’t find anything when they investigated. So far, nothing’s worked – not even popping six Panadols a day – and she’s really desperate to get the pain in her ear fixed.

She’s reluctant to go though, having built such a good rapport with all my kids and loving them like they’re her little siblings. She doesn’t have to stay – she’s finished her loan and doesn’t need this job in the first place. Her family is extremely wealthy and prior to this job, she stays home to watch Korean drama all day. She speaks almost fluent Korean and knows the names of every Korean heartthrob by heart. She once pointed to one of the bungalows in Thomson while on a car journey and said her house back at home looked like that. Her family owns land, dogs and horses. She rides a motorcycle and gets manicures, pedicures and hair treatment on a weekly basis. She came to Singapore because she was bored with her life and has now grown to love this job as our helper.

Last week, her replacement came (and went). The new one was a constant source of our frustration with her utter lack of initiative. My helper, who’s the most patient one in the house, lost her patience with the replacement so many times. Whilst she stayed on to train the new helper, the new girl refused to learn and succeeded in annoying everyone at home. The straw that broke the camel’s back? She held open the fridge door for a good two minutes looking for sugar despite being told many times where sugar was kept. AND shoved a scalding hot mouthful of porridge into Becks’ mouth. We promptly sent her back to the agent and could finally heave that much awaited sigh of relief.

Now we’re in search of a new one. I’d wished my helper doesn’t have to go. With our plans to homeschool the kids next year, it’s so crucial that we get good help so I can focus my energies on teaching the children.

Here we go again.

 

Motherkao's recipes The Kao Kids

My children’s first year birthday cake

October 26, 2012

I baked this orange-zesty olive oil cake for my children’s first year birthday celebration at infantcare. I don’t really fancy buying creamy, chocolatey, buttery cakes to feed 12-18 month-old babies, so I bake this because this is something I would give to Ben, Becks and Nat at 12 months old. The recipe calls for little sugar, lots of orange zest and no butter at all.

Zesty Olive Oil Cake (Recipe makes 8 huge slices & about 16 small ones)

Ingredients:

2 eggs
160g caster sugar
zest of one huge navel orange
zest of half a lemon
125ml olive oil
185g self-raising flour (add 2tsp baking powder if using plain flour)
60ml milk
60ml orange juice(I juiced the navel orange I used for zest)
 

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 180 deg C. Grease a shallow 20cm round cake tin and line base with baking paper.

2. Whisk eggs and sugar in a large bowl using electric beaters until well-combined. Add orange and lemon zest, then stir in olive oil.

3. Stir in sifted flour alternately with orange juice and milk. Stir mixture gently for about 30s. Pour into cake tin.

4. Bake for 45 min. Leave to cool in rack for 5 min.

5. Dust with icing sugar. Serve and enjoy.

Becks’ first birthday cake

The real supermom Thunderstorm days

Of losing weight and finding help

October 22, 2012

Last weekend, my baby boy signed me up for a weightloss programme called “detoxification by gastric flu”.

The programme involved an intensive period of throwing up and diarrhea-ing, and taking nothing at all the whole day, except for the occasional sips of water.

It all began when Baby Nat first started having loose green stools and throwing up on Thursday, and fatherkao starting to feel unwell on Friday. I was trying to keep the house in order that evening, which was a mean feat with one adult down, and by Friday night after tucking the kids in bed, I was deciding if I should camp near the toilet for the night or bury my head in the toilet bowl permanently. By Saturday morning, the helper started to feel woozy too and by late afternoon, Becks also started having the runs. With the adults all down, a fussy infant and two tods needing attention, both fatherkao and I dialed 1800-CALL-A-MOM.

Help arrived in the form of a pint-sized woman who made sure that the older kids were fed, bathed and entertained, and the baby was taken care of; and more importantly, that the sickly big ones in the house were undisturbed. She patiently constructed Lego with the kids, read them story after story, sat next to them while they coloured their boredom away. She brought them to the playground when the sun came out and brushed their teeth, cleaned them up and tucked them in when the sun set. She cooed the baby and carried him all day long so that his fussing was minimal and I wouldn’t need to keep getting up to nurse the baby. Fatherkao and I slept in the whole of Saturday, and I felt as if I repaid a three-year sleep debt since Ben was born. I have not stayed in bed for so long ever since I brought my first baby home from the hospital.

On Sunday, I woke up to a house in order. My fridge was stocked with food and groceries, my children’s nails were cut, and my daughter’s hair was trimmed. The helper was also given instructions to prepare a nutritious meal of soup with fresh pomfret for lunch.

Will the real supermom please stand up?

 

 

More details:

This weightloss programme has helped me shed three kilos effectively. To sign up, simply head on down to any children’s clinic while the gastric flu season is on.

All this blog's PR Stuff Product Reviews

Fuss-free freezing [Product review]

October 20, 2012

Baby Nat is eight months old and enjoying every minute of eating semi-solids with two budding front teeth. To date, he’s had pureed pumpkin, beetroot, sweet potato, carrot and broccoli. He also loves his porridge cooked with a variety of fish, chicken and veggies boiled in fish or chicken stock.

I used to freeze all that excess food in ice-cube trays; unfortunately, I’ve also broken a few with all the banging and yanking to get the frozen cubes out. I gave up using them because it’s just too troublesome to be scooping baby food into cubed compartments while having to mind two tods and a baby Speedy crawlin’ Gonzales, who’s always toppling dustbins and putting dirt in his mouth. Using those ice-cube trays requires so much effort and precision. Using food cups, on the other hand, takes up just too much space in the freezer.

Why is why I was glad the folks at New Baby Singapore sent me Qubies, an upside-down ice-cube tray designed to freeze anything in a totally hassle-free way. Qubies’ dividers are made of high quality food grade silicon so the frozen food cubes are released once you pop open the cover. The tray is made of a new material called Tritan, which is durable and flexible, and best of all, BPA-free. All I need to do to freeze the pureed food for the baby is to pour it into the tray, snap on the divider lid and voila! I get pretty 30ml cubes after the food’s reached freezing point, without having to knock the tray and smash the food out.

It was pretty fun popping cubes out and the two older kids wanted to do it for me. They ended up finishing their baby brother’s pureed beetroot as well!

The people at New Baby Singapore are now giving a 10% discount and free normal postage with every purchase of Qubies. Send Elisa from the New Baby Team an email (newbabysingapore@gmail.com) or leave a PM on their facebook page. Remember to quote “MKQPromo” to enjoy this offer!

 More details:
  • Qubies are available for sale online at New Baby Singapore. They retail at SGD$29.90 and are available in three colours:  green, blue and pink.
  • For a demonstration of how Qubies work, check out this video. You can also join this group for tips and recipes.
Motherkao's recipes

Lemony cheesy yum

October 19, 2012

One of my favourite combi for cupcakes is lemon and blueberries topped with cream cheese frosting and chopped almonds. It’s healthy and yummy, and something the kids gobble down in minutes.

Blueberry Lemon Cupcakes

Ingredients: (recipe makes 10)

120g unsalted butter at room temperature ( I use Greenfields butter)
125g caster sugar
100g self-raising flour (add 1.5 tsp baking soda if you use plain flour)
2 eggs
lemon zest from 1/2 a lemon and 1 tsp lemon essence
100g dried blueberries
 

For the frosting:

240g cream cheese
200g icing sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla essence 
1 tsp lemon essence 
Chopped almonds (for the toppings)
 

Instructions:

1. Gather your little troopers. Prepare measuring cups, utensils and 10 cupcake cups. Preheat oven to 180 deg C.

2. Beat together butter and sugar till pale and creamy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Stir in lemon zest and lemon essence.

3. Sift flour over batter and fold in. Add blueberries.

4. Spoon 2/3 of batter into cupcake cups. Bake for 15 minutes till risen and golden or till skewer comes out clean.

5. Cool cupcakes in a cooling rack. To make the frosting, beat softened cream cheese with icing sugar and vanilla and lemon essence till smooth. Slather generously onto cooled cupcakes and top with chopped almonds.

6. Enjoy.

Motherkao's recipes

Steamed cakes for breakfast

October 17, 2012

One of the things we make every now and then is sweet Japanese steamed cake, also known as mushi-pan. It’s so easy to make; all you need is about 10 minutes prep time.

Steamed cake (Recipe makes 9)

Ingredients:

150g self-raising flour (add 1 tsp baking powder if you use plain flour)
2 eggs
4 tbsp milk
4 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp olive oil
Add any flavour, filling or toppings of your choice
 

You will also need: ramekins and cupcake liners

 Instructions:

1. Prepare all that you need. Gather your little troopers. Fill a large frying pan with water (2/3) and bring it to a boil. Put cupcake liners in the ramekins.

2. In a medium bowl, sift the flour. You can use the shortcut for sifting by whisking 20 times. Ben loves to see flour falling through the sieve, so he helps me sift today.

3. In another bowl, combine eggs, milk, sugar and olive oil, and whisk them together.

4. Pour the wet mixture into the flour mixture, and mix till smooth.

5. Add toppings and mix well. Becks eats the dried blueberries as she adds them. The children add rainbow sprinkles to personalise their mushi-pan.

6. Pour mixture into lined ramekins and place in the boiling water to steam for 8 minutes. Stick a wooden toothpick into the cake. It’s done if toothpick emerges without wet batter.

7. Remove and cool. Enjoy.

All this blog's PR Stuff Milestones and growing up The Kao Kids

In support of Global Handwashing Day

October 15, 2012

I am one neurotic mother. I just can’t seem to be the kind that subscribes to anything-goes.

I ban tv programmes in the house (check out this article for the real reason why tv is banned in my home).

My kids don’t eat french fries from MacDonald’s (are you kidding me, didn’t you watch Morgan Spurlock’s experiment?).

They have been taught to say no to candies, gummies and lollies of any kind (there’s already enough sugar everywhere, so the only “sweet” they eat is the vitamin tablet).

And I make my children wash their hands A LOT.

Handwashing is proven to be one very effective way to prevent the spread of germs and illnesses. Ben and Becks wash their hands the first thing they return home after they take off their shoes, before and after every meal, after they’ve used the washroom, and whenever they picked their noses or scratched their scalps. They scrub their fingers, palms and lower arms thoroughly with soap whenever they’re done working with crayons, glue and paint. They wash their hands whenever they sneezed or coughed. And if they ate dirt, they not only washed their hands — I put them under warm running water and scrub them silly till they are spanking clean. All in all, I think they wash their hands more than six times a day. I also make sure they only touch their baby brother when they have clean, germ-free hands.

Which is why the Kaos are very glad to celebrate Global Handwashing Day with Lifebuoy today, together with others who are committed to do so in 100 countries around the world. Global Handwashing Day is an event to support a global culture of handwashing with soap and to raise awareness of the benefits of washing our hands. For the 5th year running, Unilever, through its Lifebuoy brand, will work with the Millennium Villages Initiative to bring hygiene education to children across 10 countries in Africa. This year, they hope to save children from potentially fatal diseases caused by poor hygiene and help them reach their 5th birthday.

And we can all do our part for this good cause by pledging to help a child here. With every pledge received, Unilever will commit to teach a child hygiene education through PSI, a Unilever Foundation partner. It’s just a click away; and no money is involved on your part.

I don’t like the the fact that more than 2 million children in African countries don’t live to see their 5th birthday, and even more so that these deaths can be prevented through regular handwashing with soap! I’ve done my part to pledge for this cause, and I hope you do so too.

And while I might relent in years to come and allow my kids to watch tv, have a Happy Meal and try a Chupa Chups, washing their hands regularly and as frequent as their neurotic mother deems fit is no negotiation. Gonna have to keep germs far and away!

To support Lifebuoy’s Global Handwashing Day and help a child reach 5, do make your pledge on Lifebuoy’s facebook page here.

This is a sponsored post. All texts and opinions expressed are Motherkao’s own.

Becks Kao Ben Kao Everyday fun! Family life as we know it Milestones and growing up

“Your mother here. Over.”

October 14, 2012

There’s a new calm in the house lately. I’ve stopped shouting and barking orders in the house. I think my children are also happier without the yelling.

My husband bought me a set of walkie-talkie.

There’s something about speaking through the walkie-talkie. You don’t scream into it. You stay composed. You speak slowly and clearly. And you say “over” when you are done in a cool, collected way.

“Ben, come to the kitchen now for your vitamins. Over.”

“Aunty M, please make milk for the children. Over.”

“Becks, I want you to come back to the room. Now. Over.”

No more yelling. No more “COME OUT AND PACK YOUR TOYS THEN GO DRINK YOUR MILK AND STOP JUMPING ON THE BED — AND DO I HAVE TO SAY A MILLION TIMES DON’T YOU THROW MY PILLOWS AND BLANKET ON THE FLOOR WATCH IT YOUR BABY BROTHER IS NEXT TO YOU PUULEAZZE YOU GUYS JUST COME OUT AND PACK UP!!!!!!! NOW!!!!!”

You just can’t do that over a walkie-talkie. It’s not cool.

Over. 

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

Say “aah” and let me feed you

October 11, 2012

My kids are now in the phase of wanting to shove food into your mouth. They like to feed you with whatever they’re eating, and with whatever you’re eating.

So just the other day at the dinner table, Becks was her usual fussy self. She didn’t want to finish her rice. She gagged looking at her veggies. She refused to clean up her chicken wings. All she wanted to do was to give me her unfinished food.

Me: No thank you, my dear. I want to eat my own food, and I want to feed myself.

She then looked at her father with those big round eyes, and asked, “Dada, I feed you your dinner, ok?”

Fatherkao: Ok, princess. You can feed me but I want to eat from my plate, not yours.

Just like that, she got away with not finishing her food. She started scooping rice and soup for her father and made him say “aah” everytime she was ready with a helping.

My eldest saw them having so much fun and asked if he could feed me my dinner. Being ravenously hungry, I declined his offer and told him to finish what’s on his plate. He proceeded to sulk for the longest time and tried to convince me to let him feed me, like how his sister was feeding fatherkao.

Me: No. My answer is no. You finish your food and stop copying your sister.

Ben: (starting to sob) But I want to feed you…

Fatherkao: Just let him do it. The next time he does it, you’ll be eighty years old, dear.

And just like that, he got away with not finishing his food. And I had the longest dinner of my life. I sat at the table and watched him scoop my dinner, bit by bit, shoving in mouthful by mouthful. That night, I realised that it ain’t such a big deal that they can’t finish whatever’s on their plate; but it is a big deal if I missed out this wave of TLC and have to wait fifty years for the next one.