Monthly Archives

August 2013

(Self) Examination Ben Kao Mommy guilt Re: learning and child training

Four is a tricky number

August 29, 2013

The fourth birthday brings with it a whole new set of challenges to parenting. Raising a four-year-old is tiring business in motherhood.

The tantrums and meltdowns have returned, but unlike those tantrums that we’ve seen and heard during the Terrible Twos – they are now “emo” tantrums, which are much much more easily triggered by small, insignificant things.

Ben has become the resident “emo” guy in the house. When things don’t go his way, when he perceived that he’s being bullied, when he feels a sense of unfairness – he goes to a corner of the house, folds his arms, and sulks. Sometimes in his sulking, he mumbles gibberish to himself. When I check on him and ask what he’s saying, he tells me with resentment in his face, “Nothing.”

When he is disciplined – and usually for disobedience and bullying his siblings – he becomes ten times more “emo”. I hardly use the cane to discipline him; usually a time-out would suffice. And while at time-out, he does the you-don’t-love-me-anymore and pulls the wailing nobody-cares-about-me stunt on me. He whimpers and sobs in his most pathetic, and I have to admit, it sounds so pitiful that it breaks my heart. For him, the physical separation of needing to sit apart from everyone in solitude drives him nuts and he gets very emotional about it.

I have a very sensitive firstborn, I tell you.

Then there’s the incessant questioning and the unwillingness to listen. Every minute he’s thinking of questions to ask and he’s asking even while you’re answering the first question. He’s not listening to your answers; he just wants to keep asking all the questions popping in his head. I sometimes get very annoyed because he keeps asking questions for the sake of asking, and I turn Tiger Mom on him and make him repeat all my answers to all his questions just so that he would listen and not irritate the hell of out me for questioning for questioning’s sake. There are also days when I go “I don’t know” on him, and unfortunately for me, I’m now reaping what I sowed because lately, he’s been using “I don’t know” on me whenever I quiz him about what he learned in school, how he slept the night before, and all the other questions parked under the mothering-my-child category.

Argh.

Four years old is an age of contradictions.

He waffles between insecurity and wanting to exert his independence. He talks about conquering the world, yet, shies away socially and loses that bravado at times. He makes up lots of stories, and stubbornly refuses to acknowledge the difference between fact and fiction – which becomes really tricky when I’m trying to teach him academically. I find it very hard to teach him Science stuff cos’ he’ll insist what he imagines to be right – and this again frustrates me a lot. He can be very demanding (how come you don’t know all the answers, Mama?) but also eagerly cooperative and helpful, rude one moment but also very sorry and sweet the next , and incredibly selfish, yet sensitive and sympathetic at times.

I’ve been very much a ferocious Tiger Mom these days when it comes to my four-year-old. He seems to have this innate ability to push me to the outer edge of my patience. I turn into a growling and critical mother who over-reacts every time he does what he does best – being a four-year-old. I’m frustrated, angry and drained almost every day.

~~~

But I didn’t write this post to only detail the challenges of raising a four-year-old. More than that, I’m writing to remind myself to look beyond the challenges that come with raising children at every stage that I am blessed with a four-year-old who’s curious about the world, enthusiastic about life, brimming with energy and experiencing all sorts of emotions that’s part of growing up. I’m writing to remind myself that beyond wishing that this too shall pass, to remember the now – the now that I may never get to see after the fifth birthday is celebrated and the candles are blown out – and not get too caught up in the daily grind and seeing mothering my four-year-old as a big task to accomplish.

I’m writing this to remind myself because Ben feels that I don’t love him anymore. He just told me that on the bus on our way to kindergarten. He says,”I don’t know” when I asked him if he knew that I loved him very much. That broke my heart. What he feels matter, and I have, in a bid to parent him with all the challenges that come, managed to work him like a big task to accomplish and forgotten that this boy has feelings too. When I blow it, holler at him and overreact, I push him away; I forget that he’s just being four.

I have busied myself with trying to cope with him being four (and his sister being three, and the impending Terrible Two that’s approaching with Nat) for too long that I’ve forgotten to love. To love him for who he is. Just like I’ve done when he was one year old, two, and three. And to roll with life’s punches and adapt as motherhood presents new challenges. Not react all the time and alienate the ones I wish to be firmly attached to for the rest of our lives.

Six more months before he blows out five candles. Six more month to love him while he is still four.

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The Kaos here drink milk!

August 28, 2013

The Kaos in the house guzzle milk. And I mean guzzle. We drink as much as 6 litres of fresh milk every week, sometimes even more.

Fatherkao adds fresh milk to his coffee and Milo. I add it once every few days to some Earl Grey tea if I don’t get my daily bubble tea fix. Ben and Becks drink milk fresh from the carton every morning at breakfast, every afternoon with snacks and every night before they go to bed. And I’ve not even introduced Nat to fresh milk yet. I think when he finally joins the fresh milk drinking club, we’ll have to kidnap a cow.

And for a couple of years now, we’ve been drinking Greenfields. (If you ask me why we switched, it was simply because Starbucks uses it.)

Drinking Greenfields

Ben and Becks drink Greenfields Fresh Milk before they head to kindy every morning – and they love Greenfields Chocolate Malt best!

Originating from Indonesia and established in 1997, Greenfields milk does not include additives, chemicals, antibiotics and hormones. Fresh milk from Greenfields is single-pasteurized, which means more nutrients are retained. Their milk is also produced, pasteurized and packed within the dairy, and Greenfields’ integrated dairy farm based at Gunung Kawi (Malang, East Java) is of the highest quality and meets the world’s toughest microbiological standards.

Print

The Greenfields Integrated Dairy Farm at Gunung Kawi

I like the idea that the dairy farm is kinda like it’s next door, compared to milk that has to travel a bit longer than Indonesia to reach us, like those from Australia or New Zealand; which means when Greenfields call their milk ‘fresh milk’, theirs is kinda fresher than those dairy farms which are further away.

Greenfields produces Honest Milk, and we like that it is fresh and safe for our family, and that it tastes great too.

Besides our daily affair of guzzling milk by the cartons, fresh milk is often a key ingredient for my cooking and baking. It’s a must-have in our ham and chicken Alfredo, clam chowder, sliced fish soup and curry chicken – because it’s way healthier than coconut milk and evaporated milk – and is one of the essential ingredient for my cupcakes and pound cakes which I bake for the kids for their breakfast and tea.

I recently made Hot Milk Cake with Greenfields’ High Calcium Low Fat Milk, which was a hit with the kids. This simple, classic pound cake is so easy to make and so yummy to have. Trust me, you will wow your kids with this recipe.

Hot Milk Cake (Recipe yields 12-16 servings. Half the recipe if you don’t need so much, but it’s pretty addictive so making more is always a good idea!)

Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2-1/4 cups all purpose flour / plain flour
  • 2-1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1-1/4 cup 2% milk (I use Greenfields 1.3% Low Fat Milk)
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed (about 150g)

Instructions:

1) In a large bowl, beat eggs on high speed for 5 minutes till you see them turn a thick lemon colour. Gradually add sugar and beat till mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla.

2) Combine sifted flour and baking powder and gradually add to the batter. Beat at low speed until smooth.

3) In a small saucepan, heat milk and unsalted butter under low heat until butter is melted. Gradually add to batter and beat until just combined. (That’s why it’s called ‘Hot Milk Cake’!)

Hot milk cake with low fat milk

Hot milk cake ready for the oven!

4) Pour into a greased or lined baking pan and bake at 175°C for 30-35 minutes or until toothpick inserted near centre of cake comes out clean.

5) When the cake’s cool, slice and enjoy!

Hot milk cake baked

Freshly baked yumminess

Slice and enjoy

Slice and enjoy!

What a way to load up on the calcium I say, with fresh milk every day and milk in our food and desserts!

Greenfields Milk is available at most supermarkets at $5.95 for their 2-litre bottle (all except at FairPrice), $3.25 for their 1-litre pack and $1.50 for a pack of 200ml Greenfields Milk (only available at 7-11).

Buy any 2 x 2-litre Bottles or 3 x 1-litre Packs to get your free limited edition double walled cup. Promotion is valid from 12 August, while stocks last and available at major supermarkets and hypermarkets nationwide. Limited to four cups in a single receipt.

This recipe and post was brought to you by Greenfields.

GF NEW LOGO_E - final

Disclosure: Thanks to the milk man from Greenfields who delivered a few 1-litre and 200ml packs to our doorstep, we got to enjoy (more) milk this month. The good people at Greenfields also paid me to write this post. All opinions here are my own and based on my experience. We’ve been drinking Greenfields for a few years now, and it’s currently our favourite brand of fresh milk.

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heART Studio’s Little Masters Workshop [Giveaway]

August 26, 2013

I’ve been trying to sign both kids up for art lessons at the community centres, but most of them tell me they usually take in 5 years and up.

Then I got to know about heART Studio, an art studio that provides quality art education for the little ones. I hear their programmes are designed for children as young as three years old, and are focused on cultivating their creativity through technical art skills. Boy, am I glad that this September holidays, both Ben and Becks will have a chance to get some creativity going with heART Studio’s September Holiday Programme Little Masters Workshop. They’re going to canvas draw and paint some monsters. How cool!

heART Studio Little Masters Sept Holiday Programme

heART Studio Little Masters Workshop

The good folks at heART Studio are giving out three passes to their Little Masters Workshop on my blog for the September Holidays. To be precise – I’m giving out ONE PASS EACH for the following workshops: Hello Kitty, Ballerina and Outer Space. The schedule for these classes are here:

heART Studio Schedule for Sept Holiday Programme

Schedule for heART Studio’s Sept Holiday Programme

If you’d like to win a pass to the workshop for your kid, simply LIKE heART Studio’s FB page and mine (if you’ve not done so), and leave me a comment here saying who you’d like to win it for and the session (time and date) of the workshop (Hello Kitty, Ballerina or Outer Space) you’d like your child to attend.

Giveaway closes 1 September. The randomizer would pick one winner from each workshop category and results will be announced on 2nd September. Let’s have some fun painting!

P/S: If you’d like to win passes to the Young Masters Workshop for ages 5 and 6, hop over to my friend, Connie’s blog – she’s doing a giveaway here!

UPDATE: And I’ve got the winners for the three pass to heART Studio’s Little Masters Workshop Holiday Programme! Here goes:

1) Outerspace – Ondine

Outerspace Winner_heART Studio

2) Ballerina – Pmbabe

Ballerina winner_heART Studio

3) Hello Kitty – Lynn (there wasn’t any toss up!)

P/S: Sarina, sorry I couldn’t toss you up in anything cos’ Monsters isn’t what we’re giving away!

Becks Kao Family life as we know it Milestones and growing up The darndest kid quotes and antics

The Mummy

August 25, 2013

The little girl who’s just turned three is bossy no more. She’s ditched her bossy ways and turned all nurturing and gentle. She’s now “Mummy” of the house. Earlier on, she adopted me as her kid and fussed a fair bit over me. But she soon realized that there’s absolutely no adorable-ness in me and has turned to Little Nat as her new target to mother.

Every day, she addresses herself in third person as “Mama” and talks to Nat as that. Sometimes Ben joins in and becomes “Dada”; but for a boy who’s already four-half turning five, pretend play as mum and dad is as fun as only five minutes. His world is one filled with monsters to catch, dinosaurs to hide from, dragons to slay and knighthood to be perfected. So that pretty much leaves the “Mummy” on her own to fuss over the baby and take care of him.

So the Mummy goes:

“Come, Nat, Mama will read you a book” 

“Alright Nat, please don’t cry, Mama is here” 

“Mama will feed you / bathe you / make you something to eat / tuck you in bed / hold your hand” every day.

This Mama throws very few tantrums nowadays (hurray and goodbye Terrible Twos!), manages her emotions pretty well with each passing day, and has gone all tender and loving, especially towards her little brother.

I am so not complaining, by the way; I love it whenever she goes on Mama-mode.

Just tonight, she made Nat lie down on the bed for a good fifteen minutes, pretending to apply ru yi oil on him. Nat very sportingly lifted his shirt for a rub on his tummy, played along with her by pretending to cry and needing comfort and it was all but terrific entertainment for us to watch.

Before Becks went to sleep, I just had to sit her down to have a good talk with her.

Me: Becks, so you’re Mama now huh…

Becks: Ya… I am!

Me: Means you can take care of everyone in this house?

Becks: Yes, I can!

Me: So you think I can take a holiday soon?

Becks: Hmmm…

Me: I mean, you can take care of everyone right? Ok, let me ask you, can you change and bathe Di Di?

Becks: Ya. Bathing time I just put soap on him and wash with water.

Me: Can you feed him milk?

Becks: (pauses for a while – she knows I am still breastfeeding) Ummm, I will give him the bottle?

Me: Can you tuck him in bed?

Becks: I just ask him to lie down and sleep lor

Me: Can you cook for him?

Becks: Err…no! I can only cook fake food! But Aunty can cook what!

Me: Ok, great, you can be the Mama. Take care of all the children in this room now, Mama. I will now return to sleep on my bed in the master bedroom.

For the record, I will still be co-sleeping with the kids in their room because when I declared that the new Mama would now take my place in my absence (I was going to apply for leave from motherhood in a bit, hurhurhur), Ben was pleading with me not to and Nat started to cry a bit.

Of course, “Mama” rose to the occasion and told the two boys it was going to be ok with her as their mum. “Don’t worry, Mama is here,” she said.

Gotta love this mum for her TLC. So glad I’ve found a suitable relief!

The wonderful world of pretend play: And what do you know? This Mama also sells ice cream on a motorbike. Earlier in the morning, she started ringing her bell and prepping "ice cream" with a plastic-bag glove and selling one scoop for a dollar!

The wonderful world of pretend play: And what do you know? This Mama also sells ice cream on a motorbike. Earlier in the morning, she started ringing her bell and prepping “ice cream” with a plastic-bag glove and selling one scoop for a dollar!

Re: learning and child training What to Expect... As a Mother

Pressing on at 6 months

August 22, 2013

stay-at-home-mom

It’s been half a year since I’ve traded those beautifully tailored shift dresses (languishing now with dust in the walk-in) for t-shirts and shorts, and pretty heels (which must be growing mould right now in the shoe cabinet) for flip flops. I no longer get salary credited to my bank account the 12th of every month and am existing at a state of subsisting.

It has been helluva six exhausting months. I still have meltdowns once a month on the average. The learning curve’s been steep. I didn’t stay home with one kid, then went on to have my second and third. I stayed home with all three at their most whiny, sticky, wimpy and needy. I had to learn to be patient, do everything myself (with the helper), learn to teach each child, differentiate their learning and deal with those horrible feelings that come with lack. The lack that is of energy, time, money, space and sometimes, love – on my end.

I have to learn to bite the bullet. Every day.

Recently, a friend casually asked me if I’ve been doing well staying home and if I was ready to throw in the towel and return back to work. “So, is it rewarding?” my friend asked.

I’m not experiencing the rewarding feeling yet, and I don’t see any tangible rewards for now; all I can say is that it’s been very challenging.

As the kids grow and move from milestone to milestone, they change. They have different needs. Different emotional needs, social needs, physical needs and learning needs. At the beginning of the year, Becks was still in her Terrible Two stage, Ben was a boy with truckloads of unanswered questions in his head, and Nat was still very much a baby. Six months on, the little girl is throwing fewer tantrums and the eldest is asking more sensible and intelligent questions. But they are also now joining forces to fire questions at me and squabbling non-stop and quarrelling over the pettiest thing. They sing this stupid na-na-nee-boo-boo song and verbally fight over who’s first / taller / bigger / stronger / better / faster every single day. The littlest is also joining in when he can by screaming his head off at them. He’s now at the worst of his separation anxiety and is up to mischief I’ve never witnessed in Ben and Becks. He is everywhere and cheekily naughty every waking minute it takes at least two adults to keep him out of trouble. Think stealing food from bowls not his, throwing things out of the window, graffitising our walls and hiding Lego pieces in crevices and corners of the house.

Then there’s their learning that I find the most challenging. If I had one kid – oh gosh, easy peasy! There’s the world to explore with the child and I can do so many things with him – prep loads of activity sheets, tell endless stories, join in the play. C’mon bring it on! Now, even doing meaningful learning at home is getting tougher. Someone’s perpetually stuck to my left hip or needs to sit on my lap. Someone’s bored doing three-year-old things and someone’s feeling overwhelmed learning with a four-year-old. One-to-one time with me is always interrupted and disturbed. Sometimes I don’t even know if time spent learning with me is fruitful or not, with me feeling exasperated all the time. I join the dots with Ben to practise our counting and I find Becks and Nat tearing tissue paper in the room. I read to Nat and the kids are all around screaming the story in his ear and answering the questions I rhetorically ask to get him interested. I teach Becks the letters of the alphabet and Ben hovers around, with Nat monkeying in the background. I know I should have better crowd control and I don’t really know how to do it without hollering my lungs out. That, is the real challenge – to train them to be engaged, to help them learn when to be appropriate and to teach them to be focused.

It’s been half a year and I’m still finding my groove to this stay-home gig. I’m not about to put on a dusty dress and mouldy shoes for now and return to work yet. I’m hoping that staying home, with its unending challenges, can be more rewarding sooner.

Now, to continue biting the bullet.

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A break, a bake date and Audra Morrice

August 17, 2013

Ever since I stayed home, I’ve not been away from the kids for more than three hours. Last evening, I broke the record by being away for five!

I had the most splendid evening at Sugar Inc. Studios learning how to bake a dark chocolate raspberry tart with cherry port jelly with MasterChef Australia Season 4’s Finalist, Audra Morrice. If you’ve caught Season 4 of MasterChef Australia, you will remember that her famous dark chocolate raspberry tart was touted by the judges as one of the best desserts they’ve had whole season.

And thanks to Lifetime Asia, a new channel on Starhub Cable (Channel 514), I got to attend a Master Class session and meet Audra Morrice in person, together with other baking enthusiasts!

Live Demo by Audra at the Master Class Session

Live Demo by Audra at the Master Class Session

Audra’s recipe is quite difficult to master, and I personally find it pretty daunting. Making the entire tart from scratch (including watching Audra do a live demo at different stages of the process, and chatting with her in between) took us close to 3 hours – and that didn’t even include the time spent preparing and relaxing the dough, and prepping and measuring ingredients, which was all nicely done for us.

Preparing the shortcrust pastry required a lot of skill, and I mean A LOT. From rolling the dough (start rolling from middle and inside out) to laying the crust and pressing it into the tin all demanded a great deal of patience, gentleness, and tenderness. Audra says pastry can be “forgiving” (you can always do patchwork later) but you “gotta show it lots of love”.

Audra showing us how the crust should be rolled and lined

Audra showing us how the crust should be rolled and lined

Rolling the pastry

Rolling the pastry

Perfect shortcrust pastry is thin, crusty and firm enough to hold its filling and will be perfect when you press it in firmly, quickly and blind bake it with baking beads or with rice filled to the top – all that ours was not. My group of four (which included my favourite food blogger of Gninethree) took turns to roll and lay the pastry which unfortunately wasn’t pressed in well enough, giving us some really shrunken and broken crust.

Broken and crumbling!

Broken and crumbling!

We had to scream for help and help came in the form of pint-sized-steady-hands-ever-patient Audra, who came to critically assess our crust and then quickly deciding to help us make a new one.

The chef assessing the situation

The chef assessing the situation

After the crust was settled and left to bake in the oven, we went on to prepare the ganache, the cherry port jelly, the raspberry puree and whipped cream with icing sugar and vanilla bean seeds. A lot of work for a tart, and no wonder Audra won the praises of the MasterChef judges. I mean, how did this woman do all these in that hour she was given? I hear they had a blast chiller, but still!

The final product was breath-taking to behold and totally heavenly to savour. I can only say you have to try it to believe how awesome it can taste.

Which makes all the hard work worth it.

Dark chocolate raspberry tart with cherry port jelly - Completed!

Dark chocolate raspberry tart with cherry port jelly – Completed!

Slicing the tart: our tart was crowned the best BY Judge Audra for its silky smooth, "not grainy" ganache!

Slicing the tart: our tart was crowned the best by Judge Audra for its silky smooth, “not grainy” ganache!

It was an inspiring baking session learning from the home cook who’s now celebrity chef. Audra, who was born in Singapore (and every bit localised, by the way), is one very humble and genuine person to meet, learn from and talk to. I had myself a very meaningful and enjoyable break from mothering duties last evening (thanks to Fatherkao for babysitting the kids) and am even more inspired now to bake for the family!

With MasterChef Australia S4 Finalist, Audra Morrice

With MasterChef Australia S4 Finalist, Audra Morrice

Recipe for the heavenly dessert

Recipe for the heavenly dessert

The darndest kid quotes and antics The Kao Kids What to Expect... As a Mother

Baby dreaming

August 16, 2013

Recently, the kids have been pestering me for a baby.

At every opportune time, they will ask, “Can we have a new baby, please, please, please, Mama?”

I tell them that they can ask a gazillion times with a double gazillion pleases, the answer would still be an affirmative no.

Then comes the dreaded question following the no. Cue the “WHY???!!!”

For every reason I give them, the kids seem to have a solution for me. If you need to take care of the new baby, Mum, we can take care of ourselves, they tell me. No time? Let’s make time! No energy? Go get energy lor. No money? Go make more money la! Need help? We’ll help you, no problem here!

Life’s challenges are so easy to overcome in the eyes of these children.

So I’ve given up reasoning with them. In their world, no problem is too difficult to solve. Not even having a new baby. Space and time is infinite, and so is energy, money and help – so why not, Mama? I feel so sorry that in time to come, these kids would realize that everything they think is infinite is finite, and that this childhood dreaming would vanish into thin air.

Like I said, I’ve given up explaining. Instead, I asked them back why they are asking me for a new baby.

“Erm, Mama. Can’t you see? Di di is growing up and there’s NO MORE baby in the house. That’s why we NEED a new baby!”

Nope, these kids don’t need new toys. Or more toys. Just give them babies!

Photo credit: @fiveuponfive

My three beautiful babies (who for now, are more than enough!)
Photo credit: @fiveuponfive

P/S: I’m no kid, so I’m really happy just to have three babies.

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More reasons to shop at RedMart

August 15, 2013

If you’ve not been to RedMart, you really should. And you don’t need to travel physically there, push a trolley or wish that the ground would swallow you up when your kids monkey around and pinch everything they see along the aisles, cos’ all you need is a mouse, a computer and internet connection. If you have an iPhone, you could even download their app and grocery-shop on the move.

RedMart has close to 4,000 items in their store, and you could buy everything from baby supplies to pregnancy test kits to ready-to-eat briyani.

I am really impressed with the wide range of products they have in stock. During my previous shake-legs-grocery-shopping experience, I found the Chianti (Fatherkao’s favourite type of red wine), all the ingredients (from their extensive range in ‘Indian Selection’) which I would ever need to whip up a meal to rival Muthu’s Curry (not that I can, hurhur!), organic cleaning agents (like BabyGanics and Green Cleaners) and items like Eno, Panadol and calcium tablets to stock up the medicine cabinet.

I was really glad to have found this at this price!

Baby-safe cleaner at a discounted price!

Wide range of selection from Food & Beverage

And oh yes, if you ever found buying contraceptives embarrassing, you could even buy them here! No more need to explain to the kids that what you’re getting ain’t some funky candies!

The 'Sexual Wellness' Section

The ‘Sexual Wellness’ Section at RedMart

And for someone who’s big on product labels, I particularly appreciated the fact that at RedMart, I could view every single product in this online grocery store close up. This is something that gives Redmart an edge over its competitors. Especially for someone who’s a stickler for labels like me.

I don’t buy sauces, pastes and mixes without reading nutrition facts and I am on a constant look out for no-no’s like monosodium glutamate when I buy my oyster sauce, ketchup and sambal belachan from the supermarkets. I check where products are made and when they expire. I make sure that when I buy food, the “Trans Fat” reads 0g and “Cholesterol” 0%. When I get cleaning agents and bath products for the family, I always made sure they were sulphate- and paraben-free. I scrutinize every single ingredient that goes into making the product, especially the kinds of chemicals, and I consult Dr Google on the spot should I suspect something amiss.

At RedMart, I am glad that even though there are brief product descriptions provided for every product, I get to scrutinize the labels on the products just by mouse-ing over the area I wish to see enlarged before I decide to add them to my cart.

Case in point: remember I mentioned I needed to be consuming oatmeal for the rest of my life because the doctor instructed me to lower my LDL? I found Bob’s Red Mill Organic Brown Rice Farina Creamy Rice Hot Cereal (that’s a mouthful!) and decided I might want to be eating this for forever.

And since forever might be a long time and I’ve never heard of Bob’s Red Mill, I was really glad to be able to read the cooking instructions and all the other finer print on the packaging before buying it.

Reading the label closely

Reading the label closely

At RedMart, items are not just cleanly organized into distinctive categories – like products meticulously shelved in supermarkets –  you also get value-added shopping experience because you get to read product labels too, just like being there at the supermarket!

Now, how’s that for more shake legs grocery shopping?

More details:

The store comes to you at RedMart, with its large product selection of home essentials, same day delivery within 2-hour delivery windows (so you need only be home for 2 hours), free delivery on orders above $75, competitive prices and automatic reminders to restock. RedMart knows you have better things to do!

Disclosure: The good people at RedMart sponsored this post. All opinions here are my own.

Homelearning fun Learning fun! Reading fun

Learning with ‘Today I Am…’ [Book review + Worldwide Giveaway]

August 13, 2013

I had the wonderful opportunity to expand my children’s emotional vocabulary recently using a book with drawings of fish.

Titled “Today I Am…”, the picture book is the Southeast Asian English version of the award-winning Dutch children’s book “Vrolijk” by Mies van Hout, which shows all the emotions a young child would encounter. Each double page spread is devoted to one fish showing a particular emotion, along with the word that expresses the same feeling. Mies van Hout’s drawings are characterized by strong, clear lines and radiant colours, and this school of fish has made a big splash in international waters, bagging awards and accolades aplenty.

Today I Am

Cover page of the award-winning book “Today I Am…”

I ran a couple of homelearning lessons with the book. When we first got it, we flipped to look at all the fascinating expressions of all the fish in the pages. Admiring art together was an enriching activity in itself. Subsequently, I read to each child one-to-one and identified common emotions and feelings like ‘glad’, ‘angry’, ‘shocked’ and ‘sad’ with them. We talked about things that made us feel glad, angry, shocked and sad. I listened to their stories. And it was amazing how much each of them, when given a listening ear, would say about how they felt and when they felt what they felt.

Emotions

Becks doing some dramatisation here with the fish

In addition, with Ben, I also took the time to provide scenarios to explain more complex emotions like ‘confused’, ‘jealous’, ‘content’ and ‘amazed’.

Explaining Jealousy

Explaining what being jealous means

For Becks, since she loves to draw and colour, I asked her for the emotion she was feeling after we read the book and went on to “copy” the fishes on drawing paper and had her fill the white spaces with colours. She was feeling glad and happy that day, and this was what she did:

Colouring fish 1

Colouring fishies

Colouring fish 2

Happy fishies get a splash of rainbow!

She’s into drawing and colouring fishes now, thanks to the book! Another Mies van Hout in the making, perhaps!

Drawing more fish

Becks asking to draw and colour more happy fish

Today I Am...” is certainly a good resource to have in my homelearning stock and I am really glad that we received it from Fish Book Co., a publishing company passionate about providing parents and teachers with tools to develop happy, healthy children. The team at Fish Book Co. has plans to create more educational materials and original content with the school of fish found in Mies van Hout’s book, and that I can’t wait to see!

*Giveaway: I have 5 copies of “Today I Am…” to give away (and open to international readers)!*

To take part, simply LIKE Fish Book Co.’s Facebook Page and Motherkao’s Facebook Page (if you’ve not already done so), and leave me a comment here by filling in the blanks:

“Today I am __________ because ______________”

The 5 most interesting / creative entries win! Have fun!

Giveaway ends 20 August and results will be announced on 21 August on this same space. Let’s hear how you’re feeling today!

Disclosure: We received a copy of the book “Today I Am…” from Fish Book Co. All opinions here are my own.

P/S: Fish Book Co. is inviting budding artists below the age of 12 to participate in Singapore’s biggest children’s drawing competition, “Colour My Feelings”, on 28 September 2013 at 1 pm at the Rise & Shine Expo. “Colour My Feelings” is a drawing competition that encourages kids to express emotions through the use of oil pastels. Kids are invited to pick a feeling and illustrate a fish bursting with their chosen emotion. Get ready to see a wide gamut of emotions with a lively and vibrant school of expressive fish that day at the Rise & Shine Expo! More details of the competition here.

**So, who’s won the giveaway?**

I’d love to have everyone win this and would like to say a big thank you to all of you for participating and sharing with me how you feel! But I only have 5 copies of the book and am gonna give it to…

A very hungry SereneGawd’ I know how it feels to have your kids want your food! Why didn’t you eat her burger instead?

Supercalifragilisticexpialidociously-Mary Poppins-Sue Now, that’s such a bubbly happy emotion!

Ecstatic Christine who actually looked forward to spending time with monkeys – Haha, fortunately, the monkeys belong to her!

Tired Jus who’s growing a baby for the third time – And I can identify with how tiring that is!

And Drained CandyHope this book will teach Junior how to express himself instead of screaming at you, babe!

There are more giveaways on the blog coming up! Thanks for taking part, everyone!