Monthly Archives

September 2013

I can't categorise such entries

The day I almost fainted by the kerbside (with a baby and two bags of groceries)

September 30, 2013

Today started as it always did on a Monday. Kids woke up, had breakfast, left for kindy. I did what I always do too: had breakfast, chatted with the kids for a bit, prepped them for school, and bused all three of them there. For many months now, I have been taking Nat along; we spend time together walking in the mall and learning at the supermarket, pet shop and departmental store at Nex for a good fifteen minutes every day before we head home for a nap and lunch.

So Nat and I headed to the supermarket today because I wanted to make aglio olio and chicken soup for dinner. There was nothing left in the fridge, so I grabbed a pack of celery, baby carrots, chicken, wild rocket, some tomatoes and two packets of instant spaghetti. On my way to the bus stop, I grabbed lunch for the maid, Nat and myself at Food Republic.

We hopped on the bus after waiting for 5 minutes and this was when it started: an excruciatingly stabbing-belly-aching-knotted-feeling kind of pain that told me I needed to find a toilet immediately or else. Nat had just fallen asleep on the Beco and I was carrying close to 3kg worth of groceries in weight, plus two styrofoam packs of hot food.

I got down the bus (couldn’t sit anyway) and decided I needed to flag a taxi that could blast me home quick. I was writhing in pain and perspiring profusely. I felt the knees go weak and the ankles on the brink of giving way.

There was no cab in sight; it was lunch time. I waited and waited and waited, all the while feeling like I was going to faint from the pain. It was either that or be totally humiliated by the kerbside sh**ting in my pants with a baby and two bags of groceries. No way were these options options, so I prayed and prayed that a taxi would appear right before my eyes.

When it finally did after God-knows-how-bloody-long, I was all pale and weak (I caught a glimpse of myself on the rearview mirror, yes I did). The taxi zoomed us home and I literally threw everything down (except Nat, of course) and found my place of relief.

Thank God.

This is my most embarrassing post yet. But this needs to be up, nonetheless. Oh, the things I go through for the kids.

Going Out! Homelearning fun Learning fun!

S is for… so many things!

September 24, 2013

We love the letter S and had so much fun learning things that start with this letter. First, there were the sensory bins, which I wrote in an earlier post here.

Sensory bin

Sensory farm bin with yellow dhal beans

S is for seeing colours

Then we met the colourful animals from the book Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. There were so many activities that accompanied our reading of this book! I found tons of free printables from this website, and the kids coloured the animals, coloured by word, traced, and matched the book characters to the real animals.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See?Activities

Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? Activities

Using the printables, I also modified some tasks and created a Velcro board of this:

Matching the correct picture to the words

Matching the correct picture to the words

And this:

For this task, the adjective (colour) is missing and the kids's gotta match the correct word in the blank

For this, the adjective (colour) is missing and the kids find the correct word to fill in the blank

These activities were created mainly to help Ben learn all the words associated with the animals and colours in the book by sight. Becks could also attempt it correctly after a few tries by sounding the beginning sounds of the colours and matching the words by sight.

We read this book so many times such that Becks could read the book by memory just by looking at the pictures! Here is a picture of her reading it to her littlest brother:

Becks reading to Nat, who incidentally is into pretending to be the animals from the book

Becks reading to Nat, who incidentally is into pretending to be the animals from the book

S is for Sheep

We then moved on to another book, this time involving a whole lot of SHEEP. Where is the Green Sheep? by Mem Fox has got to be Ben’s favourite book. He’s learned by sight all the vocabulary (adjectives) describing the sheep using the word cards I created:

Where is the Green Sheep Word Cards

Word Cards for Where is the Green Sheep?

I got him to search for the specific word card when he sees / hears the word as I read the story out loud. After two rounds, he was able to identify all the words, learn their meanings and understand the concept of opposites. He was able to read the book by sight after two lessons with the story, and as he read, he was able to dramatise pretty well whenever there were exclamation marks, question marks and capitalization. This book by Mem Fox is a really good resource for teaching preschoolers, I tell you. I covered opposites, sight words, colours and punctuation just using this book alone.

I followed up with a drawing activity by printing a picture of a sheep and getting the kids to copy the image and then colouring it. One of the things I learned about teaching children art is to make them copy A LOT (that’s how I started too, as a kid). They learn first by copying, and when that builds their confidence, they can start drawing from memory or with their imagination.

Where is the Green Sheep Drawing Fun

Drawing and colouring sheep

S is for Sticker fun on Suitcases

Last year, AMK Hub was giving out cardboard suitcases as freebies for a certain amount spent at the mall, and since we grocery-shopped at the NTUC there a lot, we managed to redeem two of those pretty yellow cardboard suitcases. So this month, I took them out from the store room and got the kids to personalize these suitcases with stickers, and they had a lot of fun sticking and decorating.

Stickers show off!

Stickers show off!

Suitcases

Personalising their suitcases with stickers

Nat also had some sticker fun in the form of peeling off washi tape:

Washi tape fun

Peeling off tape in some washi tape fun

Peeling stickers is one great exercise for preschoolers to develop finger strength. The repetitive picking and pulling motion helps strengthen the tiny muscles throughout their fingers; these tiny muscles extending from the tips of their fingers to their hand are going to be the ones responsible for helping them write their letters, tie their shoes laces and brush their teeth. Finger strengthening activities like this can help increase their dexterity and coordination.

S is for Sequence 

Becks is now learning to identify numbers and for her math activity, I wrote the numbers 1 to 10 on these colourful cards I got from Popular and had her arrange the numbers in ascending order:

Getting the three-year-old to arrange numbers in ascending order

Getting the three-year-old to arrange numbers in ascending order

We practised several times until she was confident and didn’t have to keep asking me.

For Ben, he learned simple addition with ‘plus 1’. I got the idea from this mom blog: initially we did some counting with our dinosaur counters, and when it got ridiculously tiring to count, I told him to apply common sense – that as long as it’s any number plus one, the answer to the equation will always be the next number in its ascending order. Why, he had so much fun we could go as far as 898+1 soon after that!

Simple addition of 'plus 1': no problem now!

Simple addition of ‘plus 1’: no problem now!

The kids also learned patterns and sequencing using the Three Bear Family Counters and Three Bear Family Pattern Cards I bought from The MindStore. The bears in different sizes and colours were a lot of fun; though at 3 years old, Becks had some difficulty completing the more difficult sequences and started playing Goldilocks instead.

Becks trying to help Ben complete the pattern

Becks trying to help Ben complete the pattern

We also made a little ‘Beginning-Middle-End’ Book using printables from our Hands On Homeschooling curriculum, which had pictures of things growing / developing / moving in sequence. I zapped the printables, cut out the pictures and got Ben and Becks to do the arranging and pasting on their own:

Order the pictures according to beginning, middle, end: how a plant grows and we make a snowman

Putting the pictures in order according to the beginning, middle, end: how a plant grows and how we can make a snowman

Ordering the pictures: how ball travels to the hole

Putting the pictures in order: how the golf ball travels to the hole

S is for Scooping

I didn’t forget the littlest one and this month he did lots of scooping every time the older kids were doing their homelearning. I gave him a scoop, and got him to scoop what I placed in front of him – apples, balls, trinkets, animal figurines, whatever.

He’s a pro scooper now, my Little Nat!

Scooping scooper

Scooping scooper scooped some apples

S is for SEA Aquarium

To round up our learning, we visited the SEA Aquarium and got acquainted with marine life and the fascinating underwater world.

The SEA Aquarium at Resorts World Sentosa Photo credit: Fatherkao

The SEA Aquarium at Resorts World Sentosa
Photo credit: Fatherkao

And I was wishing that I was scuba-diving instead.

Now that, which incidentally also begins with the letter S, is one of the so many things I must do. How I miss compressed air and being underwater.

Nope, not diving any time yet; but yes Nat, you can spread your hands out and glide with the manta underwater!

Nope, not diving any time yet; but yes Nat, you can spread your hands out and glide with the manta underwater!

Oh the things we have learned with the letter S! We bid it goodbye this September and will be w-w-wandering to a w-w-world where W rules!

All this blog's PR Stuff Motherkao loves... Nat Kao Product Reviews

Gumigem Teething Necklace Review [+Giveaway]

September 23, 2013

Nat’s not exactly a gnawer, and he’s breezed through his teething now at 19 months, unlike his older sister who’s given me a bit of hell when her teeth broke through. Still, I hate to sling something over my neck only to have the littlest one, who’s so used to being worn in the Beco, tug and yank and put my costume jewellery in his mouth.

For that reason, I have not accessorized for the longest time.

Then I heard about Gumigem, a wide ranging line of award-winning, baby-proof, mommy jewellery that promised to make me look like a fashionista mom. Forget fashionista, I say – show me the baby-proof! I was really curious to see how an accessory that’s to be worn over my neck would be baby-friendly and yet stylish. I was offered my choice of their award-winning teething necklaces for review and so I browsed away at MamaLavie and finally decided on this:

Gumidrop Pearlberry SGD $34.90

Gumidrop Pearlberry SGD $34.90

Each item of Gumigem jewellery is made from silicone, which is the same material dummy teats are made of. The baby-proof part comes in the form of the silicone being free from BPA, PVC, Lead, Latex and Phthalate, meeting all required standards, which means it is all non-toxic and washable. When my Gumidrop Pearlberry arrived, I gave it a good wash with baby soap and slung it over my neck:

Gumigem

Looking like a fashionista mom already with Gumigem’s Gumidrop Pearlberry

My first thought: Why didn’t I get to know of this when Becks was teething and giving me a terrible time? I would have had teethers readily available for her in the form of these “pearls” and “gemstones” and wouldn’t even need to worry about them dropping, since I would be wearing them. Heck, I might even buy ten of those Bubba bangles and wear them on my wrist to save her (and myself) from those teething pains.

And my second thought: The necklace is indeed very, very commonsensically designed.

Each Gumigem necklace is fastened with a breakaway clasp, so if the little one decides to tug it, there is no discomfort for the wearer at all  because it will come undone and not create discomfort for the neck. Every bead and pebble is also kept in place by knots in the cord, which means that nothing slides up and down and traps tiny fingers.

Clearly, Gumigem has designed their accessories to allow an otherwise frazzled looking, disheveled, baby-wearing mom to dress up any outfit with ease. The colours are vibrant and a lovely shimmer; there are no hidden parts and they are easy to put on. No hooks, no clasps, no icky bits that “eat” into your skin.

For Nat, since he’s past his teething woes, this piece of jewellery serves as an excellent distraction and keeps him fairly still. I’m very glad that whenever I am wearing this and nursing him outside, I don’t have to deal with all the lifting up my blouse, scratching my navel and yanking my clothes.

Gumigem fun in the car

Stylish accessory and safe distraction: Nursing in the car is no longer a nightmare

All hail the genius who thought of this brilliant idea: stylish jewellery solves teething woes and itchy hands.

*Giveaway: A Gumigem Neclace and 3 x SGD$10 coupon code! *

I’m hosting a giveaway for a Gumigem Gumidrop in Jellybean and 3 x SGD$10 coupon code for four lucky readers!

A gorgeous teething necklace up for grabs: Gumidrop Jellybean (SGD$34.90)

A gorgeous teething necklace up for grabs: Gumidrop Jellybean (SGD$34.90)

Simply fill in the Rafflecopter widget for your chance to win – it should direct you to leave me a comment telling me why you need this piece of accessory / how this piece of accessory will help with your teething baby! Giveaway ends 30 September 2013.

Click on the Rafflecopter widget here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And if you’d like to purchase the brilliantly-designed, baby-proof teething jewellery, there’s a 10% discount code for all Motherkao readers. Key in the code MOTHERKAO before checking out. Check out the designs here.

And the WINNERS are…

  • Necklace: Adeline Tan
  • 3 x S$10 voucher: Arsheitha Ganesan, Edlyn Giam, Huimin Faith Su

Congratulations, and thank you all for participating!

Disclosure: I received the Gumidrop Pearlberry for the purpose of this review. All opinions expressed here are my own.

All this blog's PR Stuff Going Out!

I Theatre’s Grimm’s Fairy Tales Giveaway

September 22, 2013

We’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching I Theatre’s Hey Little Mousedeer! sometime in August, and are very thrilled that I Theatre will be transforming the stories of Hansel and Gretel, Rapunzel, The Valiant Little Tailor, Little Red Riding Hood and others into a full-scale Broadway-standard Musical through drama, music, puppetry and song! Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm’s fairy tales have fed the imaginations of generations of people young and old for 200 years and still counting, and this November, under I Theatre’s artistic brilliance, a selected few of this classic collection of  tales will be reinvented for the Singapore audience.

GFT

We can’t wait to catch this production and enter into the fantastical world of talking and singing beasts, princesses, magic and mystery, heroes and villains. The kids haven’t had fairy tales read to them much yet (unless you count Three Little Pigs and Goldilocks and the Three Bears), so they will definitely be in for some surprises (and I will definitely blog about it, hurhurhur). We are also looking forward to hearing some brilliantly composed music by Bang Wenfu. We thoroughly enjoyed his compositions in the last production; the kids still can’t get the ‘One silly crocodile swimming in the river’ tune out of their heads and sing it every time they see a croc on Animal Planet!

So here, on the blog, I’m hosting a giveaway to catch Grimm’s Fairy Tales by I Theatre with your family! Up for grabs is set of 4 family tickets to catch the production on 3 November 2013 (Sunday) at 5pm at Drama Centre Theatre @ National Library Building.

I have 2 sets to give away and each set of family tickets of 4 is worth $121.60.

Simply do the following:

1) ‘Like’ Motherkao’s FB Page and I Theatre’s FB Page

2) Leave a comment here on the blog with your name and email address

And that’s it! A randomizer will pick 2 winners for this giveaway which ends on 1 October. Winners will be announced by 2 October and I will be mailing the tickets to the winners via normal postage, so this giveaway is open to Singapore residents only. Please also make sure you and your family can make it for the mentioned show time before participating in the giveaway!

More details:

Grimm’s Fairy Tales will be staged by a very talented team of performers from 1 – 17 November 2013 at Drama Centre Theatre, National Library. The production is  90 minutes plus a 15 minutes interval, and is suitable for ages 4 to 16 and families.

Tickets can be purchased from SISTIC.

UPDATE: Family Tickets Giveaway WINNERS

Thank you all for your participation! The response was overwhelming, and unfortunately, I can only pick 2 winners for this giveaway.

Winners for Grimm's Fairy Tales

Congrats to Agatha and Serene! We’ll be in touch!

Becks Kao Happy days Motherkao loves...

I was never a fan of pink

September 20, 2013

Before I had a daughter, my wardrobe consisted of autumn colours and I would usually be seen wearing black, white and grey.

Then my daughter came along and changed that. I started liking colours because she loved colours. First she was crazy about all things pink. Then she was into the colours of the rainbow, and now her favourite colour is green.

And just like that, very unconsciously, I started liking the colours she liked. The kids hate it whenever I wear black or white. I don’t hear their usual “Mama you’re so pretty!” whenever I am dressed in those colours. That is why I now wear colourful tops, have green nails and a metallic pink handphone cover.

I’m writing this just to say that if I didn’t have this baby girl in my life, the colour I’d most probably want my KitchenAid to be would be black or silver or white.

But no, I have a little girl who’s my only daughter, and she’s coloured my world much. That was the reason why I was found at Best Denki yesterday swooning over this pretty baby in Limited Edition Raspberry Ice:

KitchenAid

And someone loved me enough to get it for me in a heartbeat so Baby Girl and I could go “waaaaa” when it was placed on our kitchen top.

Life should be this colourful always.

All this blog's PR Stuff Becks Kao Ben Kao Enrichment Learning fun! Milestones and growing up Reviews

heART Studio’s Little Masters Workshop Review

September 19, 2013

During the September holidays, Ben and Becks were invited to heART Studio for their Little Masters “Monsters” Workshop Holiday Programme.

I’ve finally found a place who would take in kids their age for art class on an ad-hoc basis. I was a little worried initially if Ben and Becks would do ok in a 2.5-hour drop off class – you know how sticky and whiny they can be without me – but my worries were unfounded because of three impressive factors: experienced teacher, small class size and engaging tasks broken down into parts suitable for young children.

For two and a half hours (including a short 15-minute snack break in between), Teacher Syafiq and his assistant were able to shuttle around effectively to guide the class of 6 children, all aged 3 and 4. Under the teachers’ guidance, they were given clear instructions and specific tasks throughout the session.

I was peering in from the window and this was what I gathered they did for the entire workshop: choose monster, learn about colours, choose background colour, paint background, dry background with hairdryer, paint monster in parts (head, body, eyes, teeth, etc) under guidance – teacher outlines and gets child to paint inside the lines, dry what they’ve painted in parts, and wa la!

Ben and Becks chose a monster and then proceeded to paint part by part

Ben and Becks chose a monster and then proceeded to paint it part by part

And this was one of those very rare times I saw how focused and engrossed my little girl was!

And this was one of those very rare times I saw how focused and engrossed my little girl was!

Monsters on canvas, that’s what they got!

Ben with Teacher Syafiq, who was extremely patient and encouraging, and very good with kids!

Ben with Teacher Syafiq, who was extremely patient and encouraging, and very good with kids!

The little painters and their masterpiece

The little painters and their masterpiece

Ben and Becks loved what they did at the workshop and couldn’t help but to show off their masterpiece the whole day long. They came home and told Fatherkao, Little Nat and the helper that “we painted all this by ourselves, you know” and wanted to display their monsters prominently for everyone to see. They can’t wait to paint again, and are looking forward to doing more art pieces next holiday!

I’m just really glad that had a good time and I didn’t have to clean up any mess.

heART Studio LLP is located at 101 Soo Chow Walk Singapore 575385 |Tel: (65) 6554 7563 | Fax: (65) 6554 7562 | Email: info@heartstudiosg.com | Website: www.heartstudiosg.com

Disclosure: Ben and Becks were very kindly invited to join the Little Masters Workshop in September. We received no monetary compensation for this post and all opinions here are my own and based on the kids’ experience at heART Studio.
Holidays! I ♥ lists Motherkao loves... The Kao Kids The real supermom

10 tips to survive Hongkong with small children

September 19, 2013

Now that I’ve gone to Hong Kong and back, and have survived a holiday with three kids, I guess I am somewhat qualified to write this post. I learned some stuff the hard way, and these lessons involved some sweat, a lot of tears, and even blood. If you’re heading to Hong Kong with toddlers or young children, you might want to keep some of these in mind.

1. Get the Octopus at the airport instead of the MTR station when you arrive

We had originally planned to buy our Octopus cards on the second day at the MTR station nearest to our hotel but I was really glad we purchased them together with our Airport Express tickets at the Airport Express Counter at Terminal 1 after touching down. We arrived in HK on a Saturday evening and the second day for us was a Sunday – which means everyone, I mean, everyone, was out on the streets. I think there were at least a few thousand Filipino domestic workers out that Sunday we were there, as well as hordes of tourists from Mainland China and HK’s own people, who love visiting the malls on Sundays.

So boy was I glad to have gotten the cards at the counter at the airport where there was no queue and zero jostling.

Octopus is accepted all over Hong Kong and can be used for transportation (we used it for the MTR, Star Ferry and the tram) and parking, at retail outlets and self-service machines. You can pay for stuff you buy from 7-11 with the card, which is really convenient.

2. When the menu in HK restaurants reads ‘steamed rice’, the rice is really steamed

When we arrived in HK on Saturday evening, the first thing we did was to travel by Airport Express to Kowloon to catch the free shuttle service to our hotel at Yau Ma Tei. That took close to an hour, including the 15 minute wait for the shuttle bus, but it saved us quite a bit of money (taking a taxi would have cost 3 times as much). By the time we checked in at The Cityview, a four-star hotel in Kowloon, we were famished. Three starving children is never a good thing, so we headed to The Balcony, a restaurant at the hotel, for our dinner. We ordered the set dinner and asked for the rice to be served first.

Who would have thought asking for rice first to feed my very hungry children would be our most frustrating wait ever.

The dishes came, one after another, but the rice didn’t, and the children remained hungry and whiny. 18-month-old Nat needed rice as his staple but the rice which was part of the set wasn’t served together with the dishes! We waited close to 20 minutes, only to realize that when the piping hot bowls of rice appeared on our table, they were not rice scooped from the rice cooker. The rice was steamed, bowl by bowl! Every grain was fragrant and steamed to perfection, and well, it was a case of better late than never for us.

So my advice to you if you’ve got really hungry kids: order fried rice or noodles or something that they can cook up quick to tide them over the hunger pangs. Steamed rice is really steamed in Hong Kong.

Rice is here! Can't wait!

Rice is here! Can’t wait!

3) People give up seats on public transportation, so learn to say thank you in Cantonese

Sunday was horrendously crowded in Hong Kong and people were packed closer than sardines in tins on their MTRs and trams (Star Ferry was less crowded). Despite that, it was amazing to see men and women giving up their seats for me, who was wearing the baby, and the two older kids. Despite the jostling and shuffling, there’s a whole lot of civility and consideration on public transport.

I made a mental note to myself that I need to teach Ben, Becks and Nat to say thank you in Cantonese the next time we’re there.

4) Don’t drink the soup

My children are soup kids. They love ban mian, which they call ‘ikan bilis noodles soup’ and all the soup versions of noodles we eat here in Singapore, like sliced fish soup, wanton mee and ba chor mee. For breakfast on the second day, we gave up waiting for a table at Lin Heung Kui and headed to one of those eateries along the street for some wanton noodles (wan tan min in Cantonese). When the noodles were served, I dished out three portions of noodles, complete with soup, for the kids.

Which was a big mistake.

Turns out that humble eateries like these don’t make broth. Their ‘soup’ is just yucky lye water (alkaline salts, or what we call kee in Hokkien) and horrible! And they don’t have wanton noodles in version dry: chilli with tomato sauce, tyvm, the way I like mine, which was a bummer.

So unless it’s a restaurant and the noodles are cooked in broth, don’t drink the lye water when you eat your yu dan min or wan tan min. Just give the kids the noodles and the dumplings.

5) Bring along children’s cutlery and food scissors, and always go to a restaurant that can strap your baby in on a baby chair

It’s impossible to get eateries and restaurants in Hong Kong to provide you with children’s cutlery and plastic plates and bowls, unless it’s Disneyland. I was well-prepared for this and brought along many kiddy spoons (the ones for soup too) and forks. My kids are 4 and 3 and 19 months and the tablespoon, soup spoon and table fork are still a tad big for them. I also brought two pairs of food scissors to cut the noodles, veggies and meat (ooh, love the char siew there!), as well as hand-and-mouth wipes (Pigeon’s wipes contain 100% food grade ingredients, so I feel at ease cleaning the scissors and cutlery with those wipes).

A note on the food scissors: remember to leave them in your check-in luggage, else they would be confiscated at the security check at the airport.

What I didn’t brace myself for, was that some restaurants don’t even have a decent baby chair to strap an active toddler in! Ben can sit still and wait for food, and so can Becks, if we make sure she’s got stuff to do, like scribble on serviettes (I always have pens in my bag), eat peanuts or play scissors-paper-stone with someone. But to make Nat wait even a minute without strapping him on a baby chair at a table with breakable ceramic and child-unfriendly everything (think sharp table corners, hot teapots, musty carpets and peanuts) is to ask for trouble.

And ask for trouble we did, on the second night.

This restaurant apparently serves great shabu shabu and yakitori grill but it was a huge mistake taking the kids there. Even if we had asked that the grilling be done for us in the kitchen. They had absolutely zero baby chair. So when I took my eyes off Nat for a few minutes (I need a vision break too, yes?), he cut his lip and chin while playing peek-a-boo with himself with the mirror behind the bench he was seated.

I almost fainted from seeing so much blood coming out from inside his mouth and the area around his chin. There was a cut (it looked like a cm long) that was gaping and for the moment there I thought he might need stitching. His lip was swelling and his teeth started turning red with blood mixed with saliva. Thank God the two cuts closed quickly with prayer and an ice cube.

So yes, this lesson was learned with blood.

If you have an active toddler, remember to ask the restaurant if they have a baby chair for his safety.

Nat's a tough one, this boy: smiling even after a fall

Nat’s a tough one, this boy: smiling even after a fall

6) Check the weather, and leave those raincoats at home in September

Download the app MyObservatory. My good friend who lived a year in Hong Kong told me that she referred to it every day before she headed out. The app provides personalized weather services, and users can get the latest weather information specific to their locations and an overview of a week’s forecast of HK’s weather.

I should have trusted the info on the app and left the raincoats at home. What was I thinking, bringing the raincoats and windbreakers and jackets! It didn’t rained a single bit while we were there. In fact, it was scorching hot and humid in September!

7) When at Disney, be prepared to be a slave

We spent close to 10 hours in Disneyland and I’m sure the kids were very glad they did minimal walking. They only stood when we had to queue and that was all the walking they did. You can rent strollers for HKD 90 at Main Street in Disneyland – and we rented three of them. Unfortunately, the strollers cannot be remote-controlled and the poor exhausted adults had to push these kiddos everywhere we went.

It was also HOT, HOT, HOT and there was very little shade. Bring a brolly and slather sunblock generously. I’m telling you, SPF 25 is NOT enough. I got sunburnt still. Go for SPF 50 and more. I slabbed copious amounts of that for the kids and they were saved. Oh, plus the fact they sat on strollers that had a little canopy that covered their heads.

Slavery begins at Disney

Slavery begins at Disney

8) Not everything you see in the gift shops can be found in Main Street. Or at the hotels. Or at the airport.

So I read from some blogs that you can get souvenirs from Disney almost anywhere. There are souvenir shops in the two Disney hotels and one huge one at the airport. And they say whatever you see in those little souvenir corners, shops and carts in all the various lands in Disney you can be sure to see the same stuff at the mega huge shop at Main Street.

Nope, sorree‘!

See this Pluto stuffed toy here?

This Pluto is special cos' it's lying on its tummy!

This Pluto is special cos’ it’s terrycloth material and Pluto’s lying on its tummy!

Ben fell in love with it when he saw it in Fantasyland. I told him, naa, we can buy it at the hotel, I’m not gonna lug this all the way and it’s like what, only 5pm, and I’m here to announce to you that we searched high and low for it after we left Fantasyland and couldn’t find it anywhere else. Nope, not even at the airport! In the end, I had to go to the Disney Store at Nex back in Singapore, and even then the Pluto we got in Singapore looked different.

A word of advice: never ever leave the buying of souvenirs to the end of the day before the park closes (after the fireworks, that is). Buy them if you want them when you see them. At the corners. From the carts. At those themed stores after your rides. Whenever. Wherever. The stores at Main Street after the fireworks suddenly turned into the all-so-familiar scenes of frantic buying and grabbing as if an apocalypse was going to wipe Mickey and Friends out from the face of the earth forever. There was way too much pushing and shoving (I tried to go find Pluto) in the souvenir shops; and it took me a long while to jostle my way out.

9) Bubble tea is not everywhere – when you see it, tapao!

I’m a hopeless addict to bubble tea. I have it without the bubble though; I need the tea to function normally on a daily basis. So there was no *Share Tea or Drink Tea or Koi where I went. I did see a ComeBuy, and I was ecstatic. Just minutes ago before seeing ComeBuy, I was at a cha chan teng trying to psycho myself that HK milk tea could somehow remotely taste like bubble tea. Good thing I didn’t down the nai cha. I couldn’t be happier to be sipping my ComeBuy Milk Tea.

I also found a Gong Cha near the hotel we stayed. Should have tapaoed one and kept it in the fridge. Needless to say, I was zombiefied at Disneyland because there was no bubble tea.

(*Share Tea, Drink Tea, Koi, ComeBuy and Gong Cha are the names of bubble tea shops. My favourite has to be Drink Tea!)

10) Toilets are hard to find. Forget pull-up pants.

One of the things that was extremely difficult to locate, besides bubble tea, was the toilet! We could hardly find public toilets and even despite asking so many people at the MTR station where the toilet was, we couldn’t find one in the station or near it to help Ben answer nature’s call. At Ladies’ Market and Electrical Appliance Street, we searched for toilets everywhere and there was none in the malls! I kept having to tell Ben to hold his pee in and even wanted to put on the diaper for him at one point, because it was just all too frustrating to be searching for a toilet for a boy needing to pee A LOT.

Of course, clean toilets are aplenty if you hang out at the more upmarket malls in Hongkong Island. Where we were at Kowloon, we always needed to get a drink at a cha chan teng or wait till meal times at restaurants to use the toilet.

Fortunately, Becks and Nat had diapers on the whole time. I’m not about to put myself in a situation where I have to bring three kids to pee. At different times. All the time.

On hindsight, I should have made them wear the Velcro ones instead of pull ups. Pull-ups are supposedly convenient to remove (just tear sides – easy if it’s not soiled) but difficult to put on. Especially when the kids are wearing jeans and socks and shoes. To pull up the pull-up, they’ve got to remove their shoes and socks and take off their jeans. Very tricky if the toilet floors are wet and dirty. If I’d brought along Velcro ones, they’d be easier to remove (just unfasten Velcro). And to wear them, all I need to do is to get them to remove their pants to knee level without taking their legs out and fasten the diaper with them in a semi-squat position (it takes skill to wear it for them standing up, but then again, I’m a mom of three!).

So just for the record, I need to say that it was hell changing Nat’s poopy diaper on the plane. He refused to lie down on the changing table. He was wearing a pull-up. He stood while I removed a diaper bomb of yesterday’s dinner. There was some turbulence. He refused to stay still while I cleaned. Let’s just say shit happened. If he had worn a Velcro one, it would have been much easier to remove, roll up and dispose. This tearing-a-pull-up’s-sides business always leaves you with a mess especially in a confined space.

And of course, may I also add Tip#11 for mums like me who have three young children? Don’t be a hero. Bring your maid. Bring a troop of babysitters. You need all the help you can get.

You’re most welcome for these tips.

Getting all sentimental now Milestones and growing up Nat Kao

Letter to my littlest #7

September 18, 2013

Dearest Nat,

What mischief happens every minute with you at 19 months!

You tug and pull Ben and Becks to get your way, pretend to cry to get your “sayangs” and have even learned to smack Aunty S when you’re unhappy. You tear our books and throw paper out the window. You draw on the walls, the floor, the tables and all the chairs when you have been firmly told to only draw on the paper. You even run around with the crayon with a catch-me-if-you-can smirk when I demand it from you! It’s a good thing you do it with Crayolas now, which are washable. Those times you ran with my permanent markers? Argh. You’ve graffitised our walls very permanently too.

Boy oh boy, you’re turning out to be quite a naughty, cheeky one, aren’t you?

Nat and paper confetti

Look what you did: we had to run downstairs to pick up paper so Mama doesn’t get arrested for littering!

But you’re not just that, my love. No, no, no – you also happen to be the happiest person in the house! The house is filled with so much laughter because of you. You have an amazing ability to do the funniest things to leave us in stitches. You jiggle and dance, imitate everyone with a straight face and do the darndest things. Every waking moment with you is a happy one; if you’re not up to mischief, that is, and driving me insanely exhausted trying to keep you out of trouble.

You’re our funny boy.

Happy Nat at 19 months

(Clockwise from L-R): Nat sword-fighting; Nat sitting on the floor on board the plane; Nat posing for the camera after demanding for his hat; Nat drawing on the paper and not elsewhere; and one of those rare times he stayed focused drawing circles (taken at the hotel room when we were in HK)

You love Ben and Becks to bits and would want to be with them all the time. Now that you’re a little bigger, they are including you in their pretend play. I’m sure you’re having the best time of your life, being able to run with, and after, kor kor and jie jie.

The happiest boy in the house: learning and playing with kor kor and jie jie

The happiest boy in the house: learning and playing with kor kor and jie jie

You say a few words now and can call most of the people at home quite clearly. And Mama’s gotta be your favourite girl in town. You call her, and call for her all the time. You can’t be apart from her, it seems. The distance that is 5cm away is pretty much the distance you can comfortably be away from her on most good days. Nothing much has changed, really. You’re still the sticky you that has severe separation anxiety. You cannot be apart from the woman who bore you and is still nursing you, and she has no choice but to take you everywhere she goes. Every day. So when she had to drive everyone around when Dada was out of town last week, guess who wailed for Mama every car ride until he started retching?

It’s you, Nat my dear. My cheeky, happy, sticky you.

Cheeky happy sticky Nat

Yours to stick to, always,

Mama

All this blog's PR Stuff

Rise & Shine Expo: Super Baby Food Cookery Class for 6 – 12 months Giveaway

September 16, 2013

We’re counting down to the Rise & Shine Expo – the only children’s expo dedicated to total healthcare and development – happening from 27 to 29 September 2013 at the Suntec Convention Hall 401.

What you can look forward to at the expo are three fun days packed with loads of information you can glean from enriching and informative seminars and workshops hosted by renowned experts. Additionally, over 120 exhibitors will also offer good deals on more than 500 products and services. “Colour My Feeling”, the first record-breaking colouring contest in Singapore where 500 aspiring little artists would come together to express their thoughts and creativity, would also be held at the Rise & Shine Expo. Add to that non-stop entertainment with the many fun contests, insightful talks, trial classes and special guest appearances of Junior’s favourite cartoon characters!

Fancy meeting Kai Lan, Dora and Diego?

Fancy meeting Kai Lan, Dora and Diego?

There’s gonna be 60 seminars and workshops addressing major challenges faced by modern parents; some of these topics include Mastering the Art of Attachment Parenting, The Power of Music from the Heart, What to Expect in the First Year, How resilient is Your Child?, Beyond Words: How to Communicate with Your Baby Before He Talks and Super Baby Food Cookery Class for 6-12 months old.

Talk about going  to school again! If you’re one of those who’d love to learn from the experts and hear them for yourself, I have 5 PAIRS OF TICKETS to Angela Jacobsen’s (Oz Supernanny and author of Baby Love and Baby Food) Super Baby Food Cookery Class for 6 – 12 months. Each ticket to this class is worth SGD$20.

Here are the details for the class:

Date: Fri, 27 September
Time: 3pm – 4.30pm
Venue: Room 307
Website Link: http://2013.riseandshine-expo.com/super-baby-food-cookery-class-for-6-12-months/

If you’d like to win a pair of tickets to this class, simply leave me a comment here with your name and email address. Giveaway closes 20 September 2013. See you at the Rise & Shine Expo!

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

In conversation with a four-and-a-half

September 16, 2013

This is the world according to Ben, five months shy of five years.

On twisting my arm, just so he can jump from a slide (this first appeared on my FB status earlier this month):

Ben: Today I jumped from the slide at the playground and my teacher said I cannot do that. But I told them my Mama allow me, you know.

Me: Was it high? Dangerous?

Ben: No la, not high at all. I can fall with my hands la! Also not dangerous what… So why cannot?

Me: Your teachers are worried for your safety. If they say don’t,  listen to them. In school, obey them. At home, you obey me.

Ben: Why in school I don’t need to listen to you?

Me: I’m not there what.

Ben: Why don’t you just call my teachers and tell them, “Ooi, my son can jump from the slide! Why you don’t let him be brave?”

Me: -_-

On having a mother:

Ben: (to everyone listening in the living room one fine morning) Do you know why it’s important we have a mother?

Me: Oh yes, tell me why.

Ben: If we don’t have a mother, who’s going to teach us? Have lessons with us? Help us?

Me: Yea, you’re right.

Ben: And also, who’s going to rescue us when bad guys take us away?!?

Me: Yea, who?

Ben: You la, Mama!

On losing his mother:

Ben: Will you die, Mama?

Me: Umm… (thinking hard where this question is heading)

Ben: Who’s going to look after us if you die?

Me: Umm… You want me to die?

Ben: No! But you will grow old and then you will die right, that’s what you told me about people.

Me: Ah, yes… I will grow old one day.

Ben: Then may I know, who’s going to look after us?!?

Me: My love, when I am old, you’ll be an adult and you’ll be able to look after yourself and others. You don’t need me anymore.

Ben: Will I cry if you die?

Me: I don’t know, you tell me. I think if you love me, you will.

Ben: I think I will. Cos’ I love you so much.

On Jesus, heaven and the animals:

Ben: When we get to heaven, will the animals that are there eat us?

Me: No animal will eat us in heaven.

Ben: Why?

Me: Cos’ they obey Jesus in heaven and Jesus will make sure no animal will hunt you down.

Ben: Woah! Jesus is cool!

On death and heaven:

Ben: When you showed us the flashcards just now, you forgot to ask if we have a father. (I had just flashed them the set of flashcards for family.)

Becks: We have la, it’s called Dada!

Ben: Does Dada have a father?

Me: Yes. But Ye Ye passed away and is now in heaven.

Ben: Why did he pass away?

Me: (thinking how I should explain) Umm…

Ben: He smoked? (Fatherkao once told him that)

Me: Yea…

Ben: Aiya, why did he smoke?

Me: I don’t know…

Ben: Maybe people taught him?

Me: Maybe.

Ben: And maybe he wished to explore heaven! You know, heaven is so cool right! Can meet God and Jesus!

Me: Yea, maybe. I have no answers for this.

Ben: Aiya, why some things you have answers and some things you have no answers?

On heaven, why we aren’t there and living life:

Ben: If heaven is so nice, why are we not there?

Me: Hmm… Good question. We will be there one day, but till then, we’ve got things to do on earth.

Ben: Like what?

Me: Like live our lives?

Ben: To do what?

Me: To enjoy our lives, and help people.

Ben: Oh yes, that’s why we must go Disneyland and many countries for holidays! And if I want to help you in the house, you cannot say no ah!

Me: -_-

Welcome to Ben’s world, and my life with a really inquisitive child.

Ben at four half