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October 2013

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Hello Cinema Again!

October 30, 2013

We were invited to the movie screening of the Dreamsworks Animation, Turbo, at Golden Village Katong last week. I can’t believe we got to watch a movie in the cinema again under the ‘Mums & Babies Movie Screening at GV’! The last time we were invited, we watched The Croods at Golden Village City Square and enjoyed the movie thoroughly.

Being deprived of entertainment, unless you count watching my three kids clown around, I lugged all three of them plus the helper to the movie screening by bus – circle line – free shuttle (at Paya Lebar MRT) at 10 last Tuesday morning, so we can get our movie fix.

We arrived at I12 Katong’s Golden Village Cineplex at 11.45am and had ample time to settle in. It was a good thing I didn’t buy popcorn; the kids were given Gerber Graduates Puffs and a box of Heinz Baby Biscuits each. We grabbed three booster seats (which I didn’t find in GV City Square) and trooped into the theatre, all ready for the movie.

All ready to watch the movie!

All ready to watch the movie!

What I particularly loved about this movie experience was that we were assigned seats all the way at the back and the kids could move around freely up and down the aisles, and in and out of the theatre (perfect for the little one who couldn’t sit still, and the older ones who needed to pee). The doors were kept open throughout the movie, so Nat who couldn’t sit still after half an hour got to roam about outside for a while with the helper. There were also some dim lights along the aisles such that the theatre wasn’t completely dark. At GV City Square where we watched The Croods, the lights were all turned off and the kids were pretty terrified at their first movie experience. There were also babies who were crying non stop then and I thought some dimmed lights might have helped soothe them.

Ben and Becks watching the movie while Nat moved freely around

Ben and Becks watching the movie while Nat moved freely around

The kids also had booster seats this time and that too, was a wonderful thing, because I needn’t sit any of them on my lap and hear them complain that they can’t see the screen.

Turbo was a good movie about daring to dream big – because how incredulous is it that a garden snail wishes to be as fast as a racer, right? – and Ben loved the speed and velocity in the movie. So did Nat, who’s into cars and trucks now at 20 months. Becks was a little alienated, but was more than happy to finish the Gerber Graduates.

Turbo

It didn’t matter that we caught the movie three months after its release. We had a great time, and I totally just chilled out. Those 90 minutes were as good as a me-time I haven’t had in months, cos there was finally no one on my lap, and there was, at long last, silence from the kids for a while. 

Thank you, Golden Village, once again, for the invitation!

All this blog's PR Stuff Going Out! Learning fun! The Kao Kids

IKEA Make a Friend Contest (and how a robot may change my mind about something)

October 28, 2013

I’m one of those moms that dislike having to work with glue, newspapers and recyclable thingys. In fact, I’d go as far to say I declutter so often you’d never be able to find a single thing to craft with where I live.

And yes, I am also a typical (Asian) Tiger Mom, who would much prefer my kids to be reading, tracing, learning their math or playing the piano, so I don’t usually do craft with my kids or allow my children time for crafting. Painting, yes; drawing yes; but making stuff from nothing, nope soree’.

The kids know that (the Tiger Mom part), and they don’t have a thing for crafting either (perhaps largely due to the fact they don’t get to do it enough to like it). So when IKEA invited us for their ‘IKEA Make a Friend Contest’ Preview Party last Saturday, I didn’t know if we should go. We would need to make a robot together – me, Ben and Becks – and I am really not sure if we could pull this off. Truth be told, we’ve also never worked on making something together.

But the kids love, love, love IKEA. There’s something about being there (at IKEA Tampines, where we hang out a lot), smelling the wood and looking at furniture that makes them very happy kids. So when I asked them, they didn’t even think for a minute how difficult it would be for all of us to be making a robot together. They heard ‘IKEA’, they jumped for joy.

It was then I knew I’d probably be the one making the robot instead of them.

Oh well.

So did we eventually “make a robot friend” on a nice Saturday morning? Well, for starters, Ben and Becks started fiddling with the materials we were given in our box with no idea what to do. Then Ben started drawing his signature smileys on the cardboard rolls and Becks just did whatever she wanted to do whenever – pretend paint, played with super glue, cut paper into strips – and was most diva when I requested that she help by adding some colour to boring brown cardboard boxes.

“Colouring with crayons is VERY tiring you know, Mama,” my little girl said.

The brother also echoed:

“Ya … I don’t know how to make robots lah. So difficult.”

I’m sure you could tell we were off to a great start.

So I ended up conceptualising, and doing most of the assembling, requesting for help only when help was forth coming – like when the kids were finally in the mood to help me tape / glue / cut / colour – all the while going flustered mom on them asking them to stop squabbling / putting glue in their mouth / rubbing newspapers on their faces / destroying the robot.

A rare shot of Ben and Becks getting some "work" done

A rare shot of Ben and Becks getting some “work” done

And finally, we, made our friend. 95% Mama and 5% Ben and Becks. I’m sure it still counts as teamwork!

Tadaa! We made a robot friend!

Tadaa! We made a robot friend!

Ben named him “Alien Robot” because he was green and had spoons on his head.

He really liked it, and got all the stuffed toys that IKEA gave us to befriend him too.

Ben and our new friend, "Alien Robot"

Ben and our new friend, “Alien Robot”

All of us at IKEA and our new friend, plus more new stuffed toy friends

All of us at IKEA and our new friend, plus more new stuffed toy friends

It was a lovely Saturday morning (despite having to craft!) at IKEA and watching the other bloggers and their kids getting their creative juices flowing was all very inspiring! I felt so alone there, like I was the only mom in the room who didn’t like to craft at all and probably the only one nagging non stop at my kids (stop playing with tape! – don’t mess around with UHU! – quit shredding the construction paper! – gawd’, no, those rolls aren’t binoculars!). I don’t know how these moms do it – not scold their kids or nag them – and I very much wished that the kids and I could make something together without the nagging (from me) and squabbling (between themselves). I know it’s a little too much to expect, with Ben only 4 and Becks 3, but is it really too much to ask that they sit still and focus on a task?

Perhaps they need to be given more opportunities to work with craft materials, yes?

Perhaps I need to take a chill pill too?

The room of bloggers and their kids! Check out some of their blogs: The Gingerbread Mum, The Dino Family, Sengkang Babies, Singapore Mom Blogs and Sakura Haruka

The room of bloggers and their kids! Check out some of their blogs: The Gingerbread Mum, The Dino Family, Sengkang Babies, PeiPei.HaoHao.,Singapore Mom Blogs and Sakura Haruka

The kids, some adults and our robot creations

The kids, some adults and our robot creations

Nonetheless, it was a nice morning out and the kids were more than happy to be at IKEA, and to be presented with food and stuffed toys. “Alien Robot” now sits proudly in our living room as our new friend, and he’s making me change my mind a little about gathering recyclables and working with the kids on doing some craft together (perhaps with one kid each time, just one or two a year). I’d have to overcome my extreme disgust for glue first, that’s for sure. That, plus find a good pair of gloves to wear when handling newspapers. But till then, I’m glad the robot taught me something about how maybe, just maybe, I could start training the kids to focus on one ‘craft task’ at a time, and that maybe crafting together with them wouldn’t be so bad after all if we started doing it more often.

Hmmm. I need to think about this one. I am sure I can start being more ‘crafty’ because there are definitely more benefits than I can see. And we all can learn to reuse and recycle too, while at that.

But if you and your kids love to craft and love IKEA, here’s more on IKEA Make a Friend Contest:
  • If you’re not like me, and absolutely love to make things together with your kid(s), you can make a robot at IKEA’s Make a Friend Contest! The contest is open to all parents with kids aged 12 and under, and all kids who are 12 and under – but you have to be either FAMILY members of IKEA or småles members of IKEA. (You can find out how you can be a FAMILY member here or register your child as a småles member here.)
  • In the competition, each parent-child team will be given cardboard materials to create their very own robot within an hour, and every robot will be photographed and shortlisted by a panel of judges before a final round of voting. The best looking robot wins $500 worth of IKEA Children’s Furniture and gift card, and will be turned into a life-sized robot to be showcased at IKEA stores!
  •  The great day of family fun where creative play takes place is on 23 November 2013 from 10am onwards at IKEA Tampines. There would be 5 sessions in total (more details here) and registration is free!
  • To register for a spot in the contest, simply sign up online here from 28 October 2013.

Disclosure: We were invited to the Bloggers’ Preview Party at IKEA. I did not receive any monetary compensation for writing this. The kids did, however, receive stuffed animals of their choice, and will go on an all-time high when you mention IKEA, and would love the idea of going IKEA even more now. All opinions here are my own.

P/S: I am not a crafting Mama. Please don’t throw stones my way, tell me how un-creative our robot looks or write to me about how I shouldn’t be denying my children the chance to get creative with doing craft. I’m changing my mind about that, but till then, it’s hard for the tiger to rid her stripes and her OCD.

Family life as we know it Parenting 101 The Kao Kids

Grilles, at last!

October 25, 2013

We’ve finally succumbed. To the superior force otherwise also known as Nat-who-throw-things-out-of-the-window.

Yes, we’ve finally installed window grilles in the house.

We’ve never had grilles for the 9 years we’ve been living in this place. Our home without window grilles appear brighter and more spacious. When there’s a perceived abundance of spaciousness, the inhabitants are happier.

Or so we thought.

The older kids never had the problem. If they attempted to climb onto the ledge to see what’s outside the window, Mr Cane always fixed this problem. Then they quickly got the idea that foot on ledge equals pain and they quickly stopped. Whenever they wanted to look out, they looked out through the bottom glass window panes.

Then Nat came along and changed everything. No matter how we warned, spanked and caned, he doesn’t get it. He would bounce his balls so high they flew out of the window. He would volley his balloons and they would drift out one by one. He’s even thrown paper down, and I had to scamper downstairs with Ben and Becks to pick them all up. Worst of all, no matter how hard he was smacked, he would still put his foot on the ledge. I would have to write a post about him entering his Terrible Twos soon, because every day with him now is about him testing every boundary there is.

We figured we need to install grilles before I get arrested for killer litter.

So when we chanced upon Le Gate at the Baby Fair at the Expo, we quickly made arrangements for them to come. They specialise in “invisible grilles” which, in my opinion, are pretty affordable. We thought their grilles looked much better than those conventional gaudy ones, and so we hurried them to come and fix the grilles for us. We paid less than $500 to install  and mount these invisible grilles of 3″ gaps (made of stainless steel wire rods) for the living room, dining room and kids’ room.

So here is how the house looks like, before and after grilles:

No grilles

Before

After

After

And now, the adults in this house can finally can take a vision break whenever the children are in the living room. To heck with the perceived spaciousness, I say. This certainly makes the inhabitants (namely me, Fatherkao and the helper) much happier.

No need to scamper downstairs to pick things up. Or to yell at the little one for foot on the ledge anymore.

Yay!

All this blog's PR Stuff Going Out! The Kao Kids

A FaBOOlous Halloween at Liang Court

October 23, 2013

We’re not into trick-or-treating, attending costume parties or carving pumpkins into jack-o-lanterns in observance of Halloween. In fact, the kids are pretty freaked out whenever this time of the year approaches, especially when heading to the supermarket requires them to duck in the trolley or look away.

So this is what happens at the supermarket these days...

So this is what happens at the supermarket these days…

So when we received an invitation for a Halloween Party at Liang Court, the kids went umm, no thanks, Mama! Thankfully, I was told that Liang Court’s ‘FaBOOlous Halloween’ would not freak the living daylights out of us, and it would be one celebration that would be suitable for children.

So last Saturday, the kids and I attended our first ever Halloween party, where we made costumes, were treated to yummy snacks from Shakey’s Pizza and caught an awesome, entertaining Japanese Street Gag by a really talented Japanese street performer who stood on one leg on a rope and juggled *gulp* knives.

A FaBOOlous Halloween at Liang Court from 1 - 31 October

A FaBOOlous Halloween at Liang Court from 1 – 31 October

It was a fun Saturday afternoon out. We made costumes sponsored by WondersWork that weren’t freaky at all – Becks was a choc chip cookie, and Ben was a Red Indian Chief, complete with face paint and tomahawk.

Sweet Choc Chip Becks

Sweet Choc Chip Becks

Red Indian Chief Ben

Red Indian Chief Ben

Well, there wasn’t anything to boo anyone about, but both of them loved their costumes so much they wanted to wear it everyday for the next three days. They also kept asking me what a vampire was, because some other kids chose to make vampire costumes, complete with blood (red face paint) and fangs. Then they started quizzing me on why there had to be scary stuff in the supermarket every Halloween, and what this day was all about.

Don’t throw stones at me now, I told my kids that Halloween’s one day where people with nothing better to do pull pranks on their friends! Hurhurhur. Too much to explain about it being the Eve of All Hallows dedicated to remembering the saints and martyrs and the faithful departed believers. Will make a mental note to refer them to Wikipedia when they can read.

So we didn’t do any trick-or-treating, didn’t  carve any pumpkins but we sure learned some things about Halloween and put on some real un-scary, kids’ friendly costumes! Happy Halloween!

Close encounters with the maid kind Family life as we know it The Kao Kids What to Expect... As a Mother

MITKH v.1

October 16, 2013

While most of my friends were busy candy crushing and completing their heist missions in GTA V, I was busy accomplishing the missions in MITKH* v.1 the last 5 days.

* MITKH : Maidless in the Kao Household

There were many levels to complete in MITKH v.1 and all of them came with challenges which had to be completed mostly in single player mode. Like any RPG, the player has to take responsibility for acting out roles within a narrative through a process of structured decision-making and character development.

Here are some of the challenges I completed in MITKH v.1 in ascending order according to the level of difficulty:

  • Challenge Take Care of Daily Needs of Three Children ON YOUR OWN

Level of difficulty 1.5/5

In this challenge, you double up as mom and maid. With one pair of eyes, hands and legs, you feed, bathe, dress and tuck in three kids aged 4, 3 and 20 months simultaneously. With practise, the children learn to wait their turn and you get better and faster such that you don’t get too flustered by the tasks any more. Sometimes, unexpected things happen, such as one of the kids falls and hurts himself, spills food on the floor, poops at meal times and throws a tantrum.

Cheat trick: Take deep breaths, ignore if you can so you can focus on mission, ensure that the older ones follow instructions to the letter. Enlist the help of Mr Cane if you have to to ensure order and discipline so mission gets accomplished with minimal yelling and nagging.

* Bonus points if you accomplish tasks with minimal yelling and nagging.

  • Challenge Mind the House that has NO Window Grilles with Three Kids

Level of difficulty 2/5

In this challenge, you face bored kids with mischief up their sleeves and no grilles in your confines. The kids unexpectedly throw ball, shoot Nerf guns, jump up and down sofa, tables, waist-level shelves and beds.

Cheat trick: Locate books and scatter them everywhere in the hope that kids will see them and start reading. Shut windows if needed. Enlist the help of Mr Cane if you have to to ensure order and discipline so mission gets accomplished with minimal yelling and nagging.

* Bonus points if you’re able to get grilles installed in time.

  • Challenge Bathe, Poop and Pee with Nobody Watching Three Kids

Level of difficulty 2.5/5

In this challenge, you need to do the above real quick. Unfortunately, all kids are awake and needing your attention. You do not have the option of skipping this challenge as you smell like a stink bomb.

Cheat trick: Usher kids into the master bedroom. Shut windows and doors. Turn on the air conditioning. Get them to sit in a circle. Tell the kids that you are going to play a game and you will emerge in a few minutes looking all gorgeous and get them to imagine what a sight it will be. Ask them to close their eyes and guess what colour of clothes you’ll be putting on / what t-shirt you would wear / whether you would appear wearing a skirt or a pair of shorts. Throw as many questions to them as possible and run into toilet to accomplish mission.

* Bonus points if kids don’t start banging on your door after one minute.

  • Challenge Do Laundry: Fold, Wash, Hang with Baby Holding on to Your Legs

Level of difficulty: 3/5

In this challenge, the laundry bags are filling up faster that you can say ‘laundry bags’. There are clothes on the bamboo poles which require keeping, dirty laundry not washed and baskets of laundry unfolded. Plus there’s a baby perpetually grabbing your legs everywhere you go.

Cheat trick: Ask older kids to help you and be specific – pair up the socks, fold your own underwear, bring these to the washing machine, give me 5 pegs for this pole – and remember to ask nicely. Make it sound like it’s the most important job they could do in the whole world.

Helping to keep clothes

Little trooper following instructions to hold clean and folded laundry this way and to keep them in the cupboard

* Bonus points if kids don’t walk out of their job halfway and decide to do something else and if you do not abort tasks in this challenge with baby grabbing legs.

  • Challenge Prepare Fried Rice for Lunch with Baby Holding on to Your Legs

Level of Difficulty 3.5/5

In this challenge, you’re alone and kids are starving. It’s too far, too hot, too troublesome (plus too embarrassing since you smell like a stink bomb and haven’t brushed your teeth) to walk out to buy lunch. You need to cook something quick with what you have in the fridge.

Cheat trick: Mince garlic with food processor. Mince frozen prawns with food processor. Ensure there’s eggs and leftover rice in the fridge. Give baby empty containers with caps that he can screw and unscrew to keep him occupied while you prep and cook.

* Bonus points if kids don’t faint from hunger and you’re able to wash all plates, bowls and wok, and clean kitchen up before dinner.

  • Challenge Clean House Thoroughly

Level of difficulty 4/5

In this challenge, there’s hair everywhere (yours). Plus dust, dirt, grime, food bits and booger. Every step you take makes your feet feel icky and the baby is starting to pick food bits up to ingest. Some cleaning is in order.

Cheat trick: Use lots of Magic Kleen cleaner and wiper sheets. Better still, enlist the help of older children if they are willing. Close both eyes if you need and imagine the mess and dirt is not there. Ask children and husband to do the same.

Helping to mop

Little trooper helping to mop the house

* Bonus points if you can vacuum and mop (not just use Magic Kleen!) with all kids sitting still on the sofa and not come down from it at all.

  • Challenge Prep Lesson Materials for Two Older Kids AND (actually) Teach Them Something While Baby is Awake

Level of Difficulty 5/5

In this challenge, you have to continue your home teaching endeavours and follow through with lesson planning and delivery. Kids need to trace their letters, read their readers (both English and Chinese), practise their addition and sequencing, draw, do craft, go on field trips and listen to stories.

Cheat trick: Not known.

* Bonus points if you can do all the above and not lose your cool at any point in time.

I didn’t manage to start on the last challenge. It was all too difficult and exhausting by the time I reached that. I’m hoping I never need to clear that level nor play another version. EVER. AGAIN.

Just for the record, I don’t like this game. At all. Cos’ IT WAS FOR REAL! (Sorry, need to vent.) It gave a whole new meaning to the words “bone tired” of which I am experiencing right now.

P/S: The reason for MITKH v.1 was because the helper requested for home leave to visit her gravely ill mother. Initially she asked for two weeks. I said no. She asked for one week, and I said no again. 5 days is my limit. We had a deal, and I am glad she honoured her word and returned.

All this blog's PR Stuff Enrichment Learning fun!

Learning Chinese the fun way [Chengzhu Mandarin Centre Voucher Giveaway]

October 16, 2013

One of the things to do to help pre-schoolers learn a language is to make learning fun and exposing them to the language in their daily lives in the most organic way. Ever since Becks attended Chengzhu Mandarin Centre’s Holiday Programme (成竹华语中心) in June where I picked up a tip or two to help pre-schoolers develop a love for learning the Chinese Language, I have stopped structuring Chinese lessons for the kids and started reading stories and speaking more in Mandarin to them to make learning Chinese fun and unobtrusive.

Becks isn’t exactly speaking more Mandarin, but one thing for sure, she’s definitely listening to more of it, now that Ben and I sometimes converse in Mandarin and play word search games.

*GIVEAWAY*

And as promised, I am giving away 3 x SGD$50 vouchers to be used at any of the holiday programmes that will run its course from 2 to 6 December 2013 at Chengzhu Mandarin Centre.

banner33

There will be a total of 9 programmes catered to children from aged 6 months to 9 years to help your child discover the joy of learning the Chinese Language through drama, stories, music,  art, creative writing and performance. The school holidays will certainly be filled with much fun and adventure! You can check out details of the programme here.

To win the voucher I am giving away, simply leave me a comment here with your name and email address and the programme you wish to sign your child up for. Giveaway ends 30 October 2013.

UPDATE: Julia Gabriel Education will be giving away the $50 vouchers to all who indicated their interest by leaving me a comment! Hope your little ones would have fun at Chengzhu’s Holiday Programme, Angie, Ann, Meifen and PC!

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All in the picture again, thanks to Natsuki Photography

October 11, 2013

It’s always nice to have every member of the family in the pictures, and we were given an opportunity to smile for the camera again as a family last month at the Botanic Gardens, this time with Natsuki Photography which invited us to review their photography services.

I was initially a little hesitant to venture outdoors for a family photo-shoot. We’ve done an outdoor shoot once at Lower Pierce Reservoir (with an established company that boasts of having served big names and brands as their clients) and let’s just say the experience was extremely unsatisfactory and unpleasant. It was the combination of mozzies and unknown insects, an unenthusiastic and amateur photographer, plus the intense humidity which made everyone look unhappy and cranky in the photographs that made me decide that venturing outdoors ever again to pose for the camera – anyone’s camera – would be a bad idea.

Natsuki, the photographer behind Natsuki Photography, did suggest that we could have our photo-shoot taken in the comfort of our home. It sounded like a fantastic idea, but who was I kidding? I took a good look at our humble 5-room flat and there on every wall in the living room hung our homelearning activities, colouring sheets and posters of every kind. There were toys and playmats on the floor and absolutely NO corners at all to sit / stand / squat / sprawl for any photo. Even our lovely white sofa now has blue ink scribbled all over it, thanks to the littlest one. So it was a definite N-O to our house as the location for the shoot.

Then I saw how the other mom bloggers from SMB were having so much fun with Natsuki Photography at their outdoor photography sessions and decided that it might not be so bad after all. They certainly didn’t look like they’ve got to fend off insects and had to deal with cranky kids. So Natsuki and I made arrangements for a shoot at the Botanic Gardens at 5pm on a Sunday last month. I was hoping that 5pm on a Sunday in September would mean cooler weather, fewer people and mozzies that would have been fully fed by the crowd that hung around earlier in the day.

We decided to go all colours as a family since taking pictures at the Botanic Gardens would mean we would be against a mostly green backdrop. We brought bubble guns, fish feed, well-rested kids and an enthused anticipation of being able to run and play freely as a family – and this was the result:

Happy Kao family

Bubble fun

Family Collage

Happy Kao family sitting on the grass

The kids did take sometime to warm up to Natsuki and her assistant, and initially they too seemed unsure as to how to handle the three of them, who couldn’t wait to run and play and chase each other. But it soon got better as we made small talk and looked for squirrels together. Natsuki made some suggestions as to what we could do for the camera, and we all ended up with a smashing fun time throwing the kids up in the air, smooching them silly and literally letting them roll on the grass.

Kao kids on the grass

Nat & Becks running

My darling Nat

Our darling Ben

My darling Becks

I liked that she was able to capture many a priceless moment of the gleeful expressions of the kids.

Happy Kao kids

And this has to be my favoritest picture ever – the three kids grinning at, erm, I couldn’t even remember what:

Favoritest pic

It was amazing I didn’t return home that day with cranky, sticky and whiny kids like the last time. Venturing outdoors to have our pictures taken wasn’t such a bad idea after all!

*And just for Motherkao’s readers, enjoy this special offer from Natsuki Photography just by quoting “Motherkao” when you engage their services*:

  • Get a 5% discount off packages when you quote “Motherkao” when you make your booking! One of the services that Natsuki offers is 1-2 hours of outdoor photography or photography in the comfort of your home, which includes ALL photographs in high resolution to be returned, 25-50 specially retouched photographs, a personalised digital photo-slideshow and all soft copies in DVD with customised cover
  • You’ll also get an exclusive online preview of your pictures so you can request for touch-ups and editing, and registered mail delivery of the photos in soft copies.
  • For more information, check out Natsuki Photography’s website here or contact them via email at natsukiphotography@hotmail.com

 

Disclosure: We were invited to review the services provided by Natsuki Photography and did not receive any monetary compensation for this post. All opinions here are my own.

P/S: I especially appreciated the fact that I could get ALL the photos back. You know, those NG (No Good) takes of you and your kiddos blinking / scratching / looking away – yea, those! Not many photographers offer this, and would charge you for the extra photos you want. I’ve often wondered why they would want to keep them for, especially NG takes – ya, maybe they delete them – so why not give them ALL to me? Well, Natsuki did. Check out some of our NG shots for a good laugh!

NG_Scared

NG_Soap

NG_Emo

NG_Fish feed

Becks Kao Ben Kao Family life as we know it Parenting 101

The strangeness (and kindness) of strangers

October 9, 2013

My kids are well trained in Stranger Education. They are wary by nature, so it’s not difficult at all to teach them the basics. Never talk to strangers. Say hi only when Mom and Dad tell you to. Familiar faces around our estate are ok – you can wave or smile or say hi, but never tell them where you live or open the door to let them in. Never accept chocolates and candies from people you don’t know. Never follow anyone who tells you that he knows your mother or father. If anyone tries to take you by force, scream as loud as you can.

The kids still get waved at and Nat gets stroked and touched by random strangers a lot, especially when we are on board the bus on our way to and from school. I usually tell them to be polite and smile because it would make their day, especially the old folks that try to befriend them. But they usually go, Huh why… they are strangers what.

Today, on the way to school, an old man who was sitting opposite us on a single decker bus couldn’t stop waving at Becks. He was unkempt and had the most eerie toothless grin. Becks was, of course, beyond horrified and refused to look at him. I didn’t insist she smile or wave. I made her and Ben put on their sunglasses and look out of the window.

Very unfriendly mother here, I know.

When we were preparing to alight, the man was still waving. He kept smiling and his toothless grin was now beyond eerie. It was annoying. We got down the bus, and boy, was I glad for sunglasses.

When we reached kindy, Ben exclaimed that he had lost his toy cow. He’s been taking one animal from his stash of animal toys to school every day to show his Chinese teacher because he’s learning about animals this term. I know it is a bad idea – to allow a four-year-old to be always bringing something to school – but I couldn’t deny him of that enthusiasm he suddenly found in learning Chinese. So I let him bring one out, provided he held on to it and not lose it.

We searched for the cow in his bag and couldn’t find it. He must have left it on the bus! I proceeded with a lecture on taking care of things and expressed my anger at his irresponsibility. So off to school he went, and in a huff I left, only to meet the same toothless, eerily-grinning old uncle as I crossed the road. He smiled at me and this time, he waved and spoke. He said he found the toy which we left behind and passed it to someone in the church. He asked me to hurry back to get it. I thanked him and asked if he had specially alighted and walked all the way back just to return Ben’s toy. He smiled and said in Mandarin, “It’s ok, I can wait for another bus.”

I ran back with the baby. There was no one in sight back at the kindy. I searched for the cleaners who usually sat at the pews facing the road – nope, no one around. Then from a distance, I saw Ben’s toy cow standing on a table, in the middle of nowhere. There it was, thanks to the kindness of a stranger.

When I left the kindy the second time, I walked past the uncle again who was still waiting for a bus. He had alighted, walked a bus stop back just to return a masak masak that belonged to a child he didn’t know (who has a mother that judged his appearance and sister who didn’t wave back). I apologised for his inconvenience and thanked him again. He said he found the toy after we alighted and thought my child would definitely want it back. And so he did what he did.

And I did what I had to do. I made Nat call him ‘Uncle’ and had the baby hi-five him to make his day. I hope it made his, because the kindness in his strangeness certainly made mine.

Cow

Going Out! Motherkao loves... The Kao Kids

Pseudo Holiday at Fassler Gourmet

October 9, 2013

Ever since we discovered this gem of a place at Woodlands where we can get frozen salmon, cod, prawns, lobsters, crabmeat, scallops at factory outlet prices, we’ve been going back to restock our freezer every half a year. We even bought another freezer just so we could stock up! At Fassler Gourmet Singapore, their Atlantic Salmon and Salmon Trout fillets are cut fresh every day. Their black cod fillet is $55 for a 500 gram pack of three, and the reason why my kids have extremely expensive taste buds. Ever since birth, they’ve eaten the best (and most expensive) fish – the cod and threadfin – that our land could sell they absolutely refuse to eat anything that tastes unlike what they are used to eating.

I figured a trip down to Fassler would definitely save me the need to explain to the kids why I don’t buy their favourite salmon, cod and scallops from the supermarket and wet market. Yesterday, we decided to take the kids to Fassler to let them experience the cold in their walk-in freezer, and to see for themselves where Mom and Dad get their favourite seafood.

It was their first time there, and they were thrilled! Becks loved it, surprisingly; she loved the cold and was the only one who was functioning and not wanting to get out.

Fassler

We stocked up – ooh, fresh salmon, cod fillets, scallops, tiger prawns! And bought enough clam chowder (which the whole family absolutely loves!) to last us till the end of the year!

I say, this is a good place to practise getting used to the cold should we ever wish to go backpacking to Iceland when the kids are older!

Becks Kao Ben Kao Getting all sentimental now Going Out! Happy days Nat Kao The Kao Kids

Happiest Children’s Day

October 6, 2013

I’ve been a mother for about four and a half years now, but this is the first year I celebrated Children’s Day with my kids.

Children’s Day is a special day; it’s recognized on various days all around the world to honour children globally. As a child, the day was nothing fantastic really; all I could remember was Sharity Elephant and how important it was to give all my pocket money to the less fortunate. It’s not that I didn’t want to give. It was just not a special day at all. But now that I am a mom, it’s especially meaningful for me because I now have the opportunity to celebrate my children. It’s even more meaningful as a stay home mom; in previous years, I had to work on this day and the kids attended childcare and celebrated the day with their teachers. But this year, with no work and no childcare, I could spend this day giving thanks for Ben, Becks and Nat – the loveliest children that God has sent into my world – and remind myself that these children are unique individuals created by God for a purpose. And that despite the blood, sweat, tears and living on the brink of insanity every day, mothering them has been my greatest honour and privilege.

This year, we had a celebration together. With cupcakes. Ben and Becks were like, Huh, how come there’s cake? Whose birthday is it, Mama? Why are you making cake?

I didn’t explain much as to why there was a cupcake made specially for each of them except to sit them down and sing “Happy Children’s Day to you, Happy Children’s Day to you, Happy Children’s Day to my children, Happy Children’s Day to you!” and had them blow the candle, which they did with much delight. The cake ritual was more for me than for them – because I wanted me to have that realization sink deep that one day they wouldn’t be so children anymore to want to blow a candle for no reason and eat a cupcake Mama made.

Celebrate with cupcake

Some day they will grow up.

In the evening, we met with some friends and their lovely children for a picnic against the gorgeous city skyline of Marina Bay at the Marina Barrage to continue our celebrations. The kids ran and played and laughed as the adults picnicked away (and overate). I am sure that deep in our hearts we were all grateful for our beautiful, healthy children who were running after kites, playing ball and squealing at bubbles as we sat there watching them.

Picnic at Marina Barrage

Group picture

Family picture

There’s just so much to celebrate, and while I know we don’t have to wait for Children’ Day every year to count our blessings, this time every year should be an extra special day for every kid to have a blast and for the mother to sit back, enjoy her kid(s) and repeat this ten times to self:

The insanity is worth it.