Monthly Archives

January 2013

Everyday fun! The darndest kid quotes and antics The Kao Kids

Rawr-ing shoot-a-dino fun

January 30, 2013

A few days ago, fatherkao started using all the cardboard we collected from bulk ordering the kids’ diapers and milk powder, transforming them into standing paper dinosaurs.

Making dino targets

The kids were thrilled to be asked to help. So they went crazy, of course; they were on the roll, literally. They used up ROLLS of scotch tape to help make those standees. And make, they did. The three of them made a HUGE bag of these target boards.

Dino invasion

Along the way, Becks also got distracted and starting taping the whole house, one wall at a time. Thanks to her, I am still discovering sticky tape everywhere and peeling them off till today.

The next thing I knew, my house became Jurassic Park that’s got dinos on the loose but stupid enough to stand in line to be shot – and my kids were shooting them silly with the Nerf guns they’ve gotten for Christmas.

Dino targets

Sharp shooters

And after each dino was shot, an even scarier baby-monster-dino by the name of Nat would gum them down and tear them apart with his bare hands.

Big Papa Dino Hunter then comes along with his super-duper-ultra machine gun to obliterate them all.

Papa hunter and hunting crew

They do the victory laugh together. Muahahahaha, hurray for the Kao dino hunters!

Learning fun! Motherkao loves... Product Reviews

Want a wocket in your pocket? Featuring a Dr Seuss’s boardbook giveaway

January 27, 2013
 
Dr Seuss
 
Well, what can I say, ever since those board books arrived
We’ve been reading and laughing and wanting to jive
 
It’s been awesome and so much fun
Reading each book every night one by one
 
They made us laugh till our faces turned blue
And got us excited that words just flew
 
Becks is two-half and Ben’s turning four
They want Dr Seuss and keep asking for more
 
These books, they are timeless; I read them as a kid
And now I’m reading to mine, what wonders it did
 
They love Hop on Pop, Fox in Socks and Mr Brown Can Moo,
I can’t wait to read more to them, and I know they can’t wait too!
 

Dr Seuss board books

We bought Dr Seuss’s board books and flip-the-flap books from lilbookworm.com, and have been enjoying them ever since. The good people at lilbookworm.com are giving away There’s a Wocket in my Pocket! (worth $10.90) to one lucky reader of Motherkao! To participate in the giveaway, all you need to do is to perform these three simple steps:

1) LIKE Lilbookworm on Facebook

2) LIKE Motherkao’s Facebook page if you’ve not already done so

3) Leave a comment here telling us why you love Dr Seuss (better still, do it in rhyme!)

Don’t forget to leave your email address so we can contact you if you win! Giveaway ends 5 February 2013. A winner will be randomly picked by one Kao kid!

I hope you’re a Dr Seuss fan, you’d better not bluff
so let’s get rhyming silly with this crazy stuff!

 

UPDATE: We’ve picked a winner! Congrats, Shu Qing, we’ll be in touch!

 
Becks Kao Learning fun! Milestones and growing up The darndest kid quotes and antics

Little blue and little yellow (plates), by Becks Kao

January 26, 2013

My kids love Leo Lionni’s little blue and little yellow, a cute story of how two best friends discover something amazing happens when they hug. They make me read the story again and again, in English and Chinese (mostly in English), and remain ever so fascinated by the simplicity of how blue and yellow can give us the colour green.

Little Blue & Little Yellow_Leo Leonni

Just last weekend, my daughter decided to skip her nap, and while all of us were fast asleep, she took hold of my craft box, selected blue and yellow paint from my stash, and went wild mixing the colours on paper plates.

Little Blue & Little Yellow, by Becks Kao

Little Blue & Little Yellow, by Becks Kao

When I got up, she saw me and went, “See, Mama! Little Blue and Little Yellow!” I went beserk initially at the mess and the fact that she ransacked what was forbidden to her, but calmed down quickly cos’ what she did, well, it was kinda cute. I would have never allowed her to do this while I am awake so it was good that she did it while I was sleeping!

I can't categorise such entries

Maybe baby? Thoughts on the new Parenthood Package

January 24, 2013

So the government unveiled a $2 billion package to boost our country’s low fertility rate. The latest measures are the third round of enhancements to the Marriage and Parenthood Package, covering areas such as assisted reproduction, healthcare, priority in housing, more childcare subsidies for the middle-income and paternity leave. The Baby Bonus cash gift is now up by S$2,000 per birth, up to the fourth child and every newborn will have a CPF Medisave account with a grant of S$3,000 to support healthcare costs.

Marriage & Parenthood Package

Image from straitstimes.com

When I went, “Dang! Baby Nat missed the extra 2,000 bucks, and that money can get me a truckload of diapers man!”, people around me started telling me I should go have another baby.

They did the math for me. “You see, very good leh, $8,000 cash,  plus Medisave grant of 3k to support healthcare costs and one week of paid paternity leave for daddy. Go for number four lah! You already have three, might as well, right?”

If it wasn’t too socially embarrassing to roll on the floor laughing, I would.

In my mind, I’m thinking, “Siao ah!” [Loosely translated: Are you crazy? Get out of here!] Do you seriously think that for 8k I would want to go through pregnancy (and delivery) for the fourth time?

It costs about 2k to deliver a baby naturally and 4k by caesarean. It costs about 90 bucks per visit to the gynae for prenatal checkups.

It costs about $80 on the average for a visit to the pediatrician.

It costs about $600 to 1k to send one child to full-day childcare.

1 tin of formula milk costs about $30 for 900g and 1 pack of diapers costs $16 on the average. Multiply that by the number of children and the number of milk feeds and diaper changes each kid needs and you’ll get about $200 a month for a family with three kids like mine.

And if the kid wants to pick up a musical instrument, learn a sport, wear leotards and tutus, that’s gonna set you back by another 250 to 600 bucks a month.

Yes, it’s true we don’t have to send the kids for extra programmes. We can search for cheaper childcare alternatives. They don’t have to drink the expensive brands of formula milk. You might as well say the kiddo should be toilet trained from Day 1 so that completely eliminates the need to buy diapers.

But we all have hopes and dreams. We want to give our children the quality of life that will allow them to have a meaningful childhood, and not be caught in the rut of the humdrums and doldrums of life, so we will surely say yes to music, dance, drama and sports. We don’t want to queue up with over eighty sickly others in a polyclinic and waste two hours of our precious time when it can be better spent recuperating at home, so we go to a private doctor. We think the childcare we send them to is doing a great job and that we’re getting our money’s worth in terms of programmes, so there isn’t a need to pull our kids out and have them go through another round of adjustment at a cheaper alternative. In short, we want to have kids and still live comfortably.

But it’s not ALL about the money, really. If you’re a fly on my wall, you’ll see that my three very young children need a lot of love, attention and affirmation ALL THE TIME. They need my energy. They need my time. They need my presence. They need me. As it is, I live with mommy guilt most of the time. I wished I had more energy to understand my middle child. I wished I had more time with Ben to read him stories and then enter his world of vivid imagination and dwell there a little longer than I can. I wished I was the one feeding the baby his porridge at dinner time instead of the maid, but it’s just impossible every evening because I need to be with the older kids.

That is why I’ve made the decision to stay home, just so I can reduce the number of episodes of mommy guilt recurring and give them the best of my time and energy. They won’t be getting leftovers from Mama anymore. I am looking forward to having better work-life balance come next month, work now being taking care of the kids and teaching them at home.

I’m sure the enhanced Marriage and Parenthood Package will benefit many couples and families out there, and I hope that we can quickly and steadily increase our birth rates. I wished there could be more support for mothers that have decided to stay home though, or at least help the dual middle income families that fall through the cracks and consider them on a case-by-case basis. As for the Kaos, we ain’t getting any of the benefits this time round and I certainly will not go have another baby just so I can get those benefits. Well, if ever 8k allows me to duplicate myself, hmm, that may be a different story.

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Glooba-who? [Giveaway: tickets for a musical by Gloobaloo & friends]

January 22, 2013

Did you know we have a homegrown mascot who stages musical performances?

I’ve always loved our very own mascots. I grew up with Singa the Courtesy Lion, Sharity Elephant, Teamy the Productivity Bee, and POSB’s Smiley Squirrel. If you have no clue what I’m talking about, you probably didn’t grow up here. These guys gave us some wonderful memories of singalongs and dance performances at school assemblies.

My favourite lion! (Picture from visualarchive.sg)

My favourite lion! (Picture from visualarchive.sg)

Nowadays, our kids see some huggables that are quite different. Meet Gloobaloo, a curious alien from Planet Global who has travelled to earth on his Big Boat Spaceship. He’s here to make new friends and learn all about Planet Earth and her environment. Every journey is filled with exciting adventures as he goes about trying to solve problems with his creative and magical ways.

Gloobaloo and Friends

And he’s back to stage his second musical this March at Kallang Theatre, following a successful first performance last October. Last year’s show, In the Ocean with Gloobaloo, also raised S$10,000 in support of the Children’s Cancer Foundation.

This year, Gloobaloo and his friends will bring you on a musical journey into the Enchanted Forest in a performance filled with original songs and energetic dance choreography. Gloobaloo and his friends, Chirpy, Grumpy and Wikki Zikki,  need to search for the Fire Dragon that is destroying the plant life in the forest. Come journey with them and see how this exciting story unfolds! Now, if only Singa the Lion, Sharity Elephant and Teamy the Bee could all be guest stars, that would be a blast from the past indeed!

Gloobaloo Sistic Poster

*Yay! I have a pair of tickets to giveaway!*

Big Boat Studio, in partnership with Global EduHub, is giving away two (Category 2) tickets worth $70 to ONE reader of this blog. Just leave a comment here with your name and email address saying who’s your favourite homegrown mascot. A random picker (named Ben Kao) will be selecting a winner on 4 February 2013.

More details:
  • For the pair of giveaway tickets, seats and date / time are fixed and cannot be changed.
  • Giveaway is open for Singapore residents only. The winner will be notified by email. Tickets are not exchangeable for cash.
  • Gloobaloo and the Enchanted Forest will be staged on 16 March 2013 (Saturday, first day of the March school holidays), 10 am at Kallang Theatre. Tickets are at $40, $35 and $30. More ticketing details from Sistic here.

**Disclosure: Motherkao received complimentary tickets to catch the performance too, so see you there!**

UPDATE: We have a winner! The random picker picked Carol Lim, so congratulations! We’ll be in touch soon!

Bento Attempts Parenting 101 The darndest kid quotes and antics The Kao Kids

A nugget of junk

January 21, 2013

I’m not sure if I’m winning or losing the mealtime battle. It’s getting a little complicated.

Although portions still go unfinished and I end up spoonfeeding almost 99% of all their meals at home, the kids have shown me some things that have shocked me:

They would choose Cheerios over Honey Stars, anytime. (For the uninitiated, Cheerios have no taste. It’s just bland multigrain cereal. Honey Stars are sweet, and taste like, erm, honey.)

They finish cherry tomatoes by the tens in seconds.

They love broccoli, cauliflower and edamame.

They’ve tried curry and like it.

They’ll eat fries, yes they would, but would automatically stop at the tenth or eleventh fry handed to them.

Just last weekend, I thought I’d prepare something special and indulge them a little. I made angelhair aglio olio with salted butter, ham, bacon and tomatoes. I baked salmon with some rosemary and olive oil. I reheated a ready-made pack of clam chowder. I toasted some chicken nuggets and even made a guacamole dip for that.

Dinner epic fail

I’d thought they would gun for the nuggets and ask for more. To my surprise, the cheddar cheese on the pasta was finished first, followed by the cherry tomatoes. The salmon was overcooked so it wasn’t too popular. The clam chowder was slurped in a jiffy. Ben tried the dip and declared he wasn’t a fan. They struggled to finish their portion of the angelhair pasta and they did manage to finish their carbs with the ham and bacon after almost forty-five minutes of spoonfeeding. But what was most surprising was that both of them refused to bite into the chicken nugget. They’ve tried nuggets before and the last was at the Christmas party at their school. But this time round, they were gagging and saying no vehemently. Jamie Oliver would be proud.

I don’t believe it, my kids rejected nuggets.

So tell me, is this battle won or lost? They aren’t eating the variety and the portions I would like them to, but hey, they’re rejecting junk. That should be good news eh?

All this blog's PR Stuff Becks Kao Ben Kao Reviews

Hamster food can be tasty too! [In support of Rise & Shine]

January 21, 2013

The Rise & Shine Breakfast Team recently gave me an almost impossible task. They delivered a pack of granola to my home, as part of the Rise & Shine Breakfast Campaign, which is a community effort that aims to promote healthy breakfast eating on a daily basis among children aged 4 to 12.

I say it’s impossible because granola is something my kids think hamsters eat.

Rise & Shine Breakfast Pack

My kids, Ben, Becks and Nat, eat their breakfast every day. If they are in daycare (which will continue for only two more months), the school serves a variety of breakfast food ranging from oatmeal to egg sandwiches. Baby Nat gets brown rice cereal every day too. On weekends, we look forward to getting our local fare fix. I take them to the wet market and hawker centres and they get their tastebuds localised to the deliciousness in kway chap, wanton mee, fried carrot cake and kaya toast. They meet Milo Dinosaur and Rose Bandung, and on rare occasions, Ronald MacDonald’s. On rainy days, we stay home and I make them pancakes or mushi-pan.

I assure you they still eat healthy – I trim the fats in their kway chap, add water to the bandung and remove the generous slabs of butter in their kaya toast.

But the Rise & Shine Breakfast Team clearly had a MUCH healthier alternative in mind when they sent me a pack of granola.

In the spirit of eating healthier for breakfast, I got the kids to try some granola last Saturday. It was a rainy morning, so we stayed home and had some hot pancakes topped with yogurt ice cream with granola sprinkles.

Star pancakes with yogurt ice cream and granola toppings

The kids were very excited to be having ice cream on a cold day and took their first few bites with much enthusiasm.

Ben & his granola breakfast

The verdict? Fatherkao and Ben went yums and loved the crunch of the granola with its rolled oats, dried fruits and nuts. As for Becks, she announced after three mouthfuls, “I don’t like the beans. Gimme the ice cream.” By beans, she meant the rolled oats. I had myself a hearty and healthy breakfast too, cleaning up her “beans” and eating the leftover pancakes!

More information:
  • The Rise & Shine Breakfast Campaign is a community effort by a group of final year students from NTU Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information that hopes to raise awareness of healthy breakfast eating among children. Their efforts include ambient installations at libraries, malls and primary schools, storytelling sessions, educational theatre performances and cooking demos. Find out more at breakfast.riseandshine-expo.com. The site also features healthy breakfast recipes you can create for your kids.

 

  • Rise & Shine is a nationwide campaign supported by government agencies and prominent partners aimed at helping parents raise healthier and happier kids.

 

  • The Rise & Shine Carnival is happening on 3rd March 2013 at The Lawn @ Marina Bay. There are grand plans to set the record for the Largest Breakfast Picnic Event in Singapore! Check out carnival.riseandshine-expo.com for more details.

Parenting 101 Re: learning and child training Reading fun

Good reads #2: How to Really Love Your Child

January 18, 2013

Our copy of this book is pretty dog-eared and crumpled. It’s also been tagged much, with a fair bit of highlighting. Since Ben was born, fatherkao and I have been reading and rereading this book, which was given to us by a dear friend who was blessed by it.

Layout 1This book is loaded with plenty of useful and practical information on how to genuinely love and discipline our children so that we can establish a love-bond relationship with them.

Here are some of my key takeaways from the book:

1) On the foundation of all parent-child relationships: 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 – real love is unconditional and must be our guiding light in child rearing.

2) How to put feelings of love into action #1 – showing love through eye contact. Eye contact is one of the main sources of a child’s emotional nurturing. Use eye contact to convey unconditional love.

3) How to put feelings of love into action #2 – showing love through physical contact. Don’t touch your children only when necessity demands it. Physical contact goes also beyond hugs and kisses. It’s in simple everyday things like gently poking the ribs, tousling their hair and patting their shoulders. These are ways to assure a child’s emotional security. Dr Campbell says we need to “incorporate physical and eye contact in all our everyday dealings with children” and this can be done naturally and comfortably. Children growing up in a home where parents use eye and physical contact will be comfortable with themselves and other people. These two gifts of love are the most effective ways to fill a child’s emotional tank and enable the child to be the best he or she can be.

3)  How to put feelings of love into action #3 – showing love through focused attention. Focused attention is giving a child full, undivided attention in such a way that the child feels without doubt completely loved; that the child is valuable enough in his or her own right to warrant parents’ undistracted watchfulness, appreciation and uncompromsing regard. In short, focused attention makes a child feel like the most important person in the world in his or her parent’s eyes. How can we do that? Prioritise, watch for unexpected opportunities, schedule and plan. These moments are “investment in the future, especially the years of adolescence” and is the “most powerful means of keeping a child’s emotional tank full”.

4) On discipline: Discipline is done in love and it’s about training the child in the way he should go. How well a child responds to discipline depends primarily on how much the child feels loved and accepted.

5) On loving discipline: When our child misbehaves, we must ask ourselves, “What does this child need?” The tendency is for us to ask, “What can I do to correct this child’s behaviour?” Only when we we ask ourselves the first question can we proceed logically from there. Only then can we take care of the misbehaviour, give what the child needs and permit the child to feel genuinely loved. The next step is to ask ourselves, “Does the child need eye contact? Physical contact? Focused attention?” In short, does the emotional tank need filling? We must first need these needs and should not continue to correct a child’s behaviour until we have met these emotional needs.

Here’s what I caught from the heart of the author:

There’s a lot to digest and understand from the nuggets of truth and advice shared in this book – and they all have to be understood at the heart level and not the head level. I know a million and one things what to do and what not to do in my mind; but this book cannot be read with the mind alone.

Three things from the book really stuck with me. Number one, the marriage must be ok. The “prerequisite of good child rearing” is the most important relationship in the family, which is the marital relationship. “Both the quality of the parent-child bond and the child’s security largely depend on the quality of the marital bond.” So often, this bond gets weaker as the demands of child rearing intensify through the child’s growing years. Yet, it is this very bond that provides the most effective setting for raising a child.

Number two, children are much more emotional than cognitive. They, therefore, remember feelings much more readily than facts. They remember how they felt in a particular situation much more easily than they can remember the details of what went on.

Number three, seize moments of opportunity to love. If you’ve missed one, you’ve missed one. So always be on the look out for more and try not to miss any!

Learning all these have helped an often guilt-ridden, frustrated, task-focused and controlling mother like me to transfer the heartfelt love in my heart to little seemingly insignificant actions to love my children. I’m still learning, and there’s so much more to learn. May this year be a year of greater learning to really love them all.

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A hoofprint for my heart

January 17, 2013

This is Dell. Isn’t she beautiful?

Dell

A dream came true last week. I (finally) went horseback riding. Thanks to a Groupon offer by Singapore Turf Club Riding Centre, I fulfilled my childhood dream. It was 20 minutes of pure bliss.

Riding at STC Riding Centre

When the introductory lesson ended, I felt a little sad to part with this beauty. She was a feisty and spirited one, I tell you; I could tell just by riding her.

Riding Dell

So wanna pick up horse-riding and start lessons!

Ben Kao The darndest kid quotes and antics

WTBW: Giving up fun

January 16, 2013

Ben: (after school one evening) I don’t want to play with my toys today.

Fatherkao: Why?

Ben: Because I don’t want to keep them. Every day ah, I play then I need to keep. Today I don’t want to keep.

Me: (to myself) Right, let’s see how long you can hold out.

Mess

~~~

 * WTBW: Welcome to Ben’s World