Monthly Archives

February 2014

All this blog's PR Stuff Learning fun! Reading fun Reviews

To NoQ for more books

February 27, 2014

We’ve been given credits to shop online … for books again!

Yipeedeedoo!

The Kao kids and I have been really thrilled these days – like who’s going to say no to more books? Hurhurhur.

This time, we’ve been given the opportunity to shop here:

NoQ boasts of having 14 million titles at up to 50% off

The NoQ Store (= No Queue, as in, don’t have to queue, no need to queue) is part of the Times Publishing Group, one of the most reputable names in publishing, printing, distribution and retail in the Asia-Pacific. At NoQ, we are talking about browsing at an online book store with millions of titles at really low prices. I couldn’t wait to as I was told to expect a solid variety of books from the Children’s Section spanning across different genres ranging from fiction to education and general knowledge.

The opportunity to shop and review NoQ came at a perfect time –  we’ve just finished reading the entire Mr Men Collection, and are at the point of doing repeats. I’ve also been searching high and low for the complete Little Miss Complete Collection so we don’t have to do repeats of Mr Men at tuck-ins. The kids are such huge fans of Roger Hargreaves’ characters that they can’t get past one night without meeting one of them for their bedtime story. I went to the major bookstores to hunt for the Little Miss box set but the search was usually futile at the heartland malls. I did, however, find the complete set at the Popular bookstore at Bras Basah and of course, online at Amazon, but the prices were so ridiculous I could feel my pockets burning up before I could even place an order.

The kids love Mr Men and want one every night

The kids love Mr Men and can’t wait to meet one every night

So.

What better way than to put NoQ to the test.

If you have Little Miss at a bargain, I’d be very impressed, NoQ.

So I went to NoQ, clicked on BooksSpecial FeatureBox Sets for Kids and crossed my fingers.

Found it! Cheaper by 40 bucks!

Found it! Cheaper by so much!

Yipeedeedoo! *doing the happy dance*

I would have loved to add to my shopping cart the Peter Rabbit Library, Dear Zoo Library, Guess How Much I Love You Library, Magic School Bus Box Set which I found under Special Features / Box Sets for Kids – if only there wasn’t a budget constraint! These are wonderful classics to be introducing to the kids, and ugh! Guess I would have to save up some more for those!

There was indeed a dizzying array of books at NoQ to look at and within each genre and section you would find a couple of sub-categories that would certainly make any book lover hyperventilate at the sheer number of available titles to choose from. Having to navigate around can be pretty daunting given the extensively huge number of titles, not to mention so many bargain books to check out for as low as SGD$3. NoQ also highlights their bestsellers on the right sidebar so you know what everyone else is buying, as well as shout out their latest promotional offers big and loud right on its home page.

My only complaint was that the prices can sometimes be adjusted upwards instead of down. You kinda expect prices to be slashed more often than they are increased like all other book stores – but I found the Little Miss Complete Collection to have experienced a price hike after I ordered mine at SGD$87.21. It’s now going for $142.03, which is great news for me who ordered but probably not that great a bargain for someone else searching high and low for the same thing and not wanting to leave a hole in the pocket. I actually wrote in to ask them why, and the folks at NoQ say that because they draw their prices directly from suppliers, book prices at NoQ get adjusted automatically when suppliers adjust prices on their end.

Bummer. It’s not so nice to see something on your wishlist get more expensive the next day, eh. I was so very fortunate indeed to have gotten the Little Miss Complete Collection at 50% off. Just glad I clicked on it fast and paid up when it was such a bargain.

That said, you can wait for their promotional offers like storewide discounts or check out the Bargain Section periodically to get the best book deals. Afterall, if you look at the deals they offer, most books are slashed to almost half their original price. For their wide selection of books of every genre in book-dom, and for letting me find the Little Miss people my kids have been wanting so much to meet at bedtime – and at a steal – I am still going to be adding NoQ to my list of favourite haunts to hang out online.

Just for Motherkao’s readers!

If you like what you see at NoQ and are going to be buying some books, get 15% off all purchases made via the NoQ Store website and Mobile App by entering the promotional code “Motherkao” under the “Voucher & Promotion Code” tab during checkout.

This promotion is valid till 30 April 2014 and cannot be used in conjunction with any other offers and discounts. Only one voucher code per transaction and not applicable to shipping and tax charges.

And I’m giving away one $20 gift voucher on the blog, courtesy of NoQ Store!

If you’d like to win a $20 NoQ gift voucher, simple leave me a comment here telling me what’s one thing you like to have from NoQ Store. Do also remember to leave your email address so the folks at NoQ can email you if you win.

Giveaway ends 6 March 2014.

And the winner is…

NoQ Winner

Congrats, Tiffany! I hope Jamie Oliver would give you lots of inspiration to create healthy quick meals for your family!

Disclosure: The kind folks from NoQ gave us $60 worth of credits to shop. Topping up the balance for the box set from pocket of mine. All opinions here are also mine. 

UPDATE as of 2015: NoQ has since closed down and ceased operations.

Ben Kao Getting all sentimental now The Kao Kids

Five

February 26, 2014

Five.

I never thought five would be a big number but today, this number is looking BIG to me.

You are 5 today, Ben. That’s having you in my life for half a decade and I am still trying to make sense of it.

In the busyness of motherhood, I hardly stop to take a good look at you. You’ve grown so much taller, so much stronger and so much more sensible. That little boy that used to open and close cabinet doors for fun, squeal and cackle at every raspberry I blow and fall asleep holding his blanket tight as his mama sang Twinkle Twinkle Little Star is a big boy now.

So big he can no longer be carried by his own mother. So big that he can now run ahead so quickly leaving her panting behind. So big that he no longer needs Mama to button his shirt, wear his socks and clean him up.

So big we can have intense discussions about school, friends, God and life together now.

You’re all grown up, my love.

Fire Chief Ben at ONE

Fire Chief Ben at ONE

Ben at TWO

Ben at TWO

Ben at THREE

Ben at THREE

Ben at FOUR

Ben at FOUR

Happy 5th birthday, Son.

Ben's birthday

At FIVE

Loving you to infinity and beyond,

Mama

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

Sound bytes of our lives: the darndest things we say (III)

February 25, 2014

Someone’s being bullied these days and suffering from the tyranny of the majority.

On the way to school on Monday

Ben: Ugh. It’s Monday. Can we not go to school?

Me: You think?

Becks: Yes?

Me: In your wildest dreams.

Ben and Becks: Huh?

Ben: You mean I can dream? If you let me dream, I dream of you not letting us go to school.

Becks: And you will do ALL our homework!

Me: -_-

The mess is too great to bear

Me: Every day this mess at home is getting worse.

Ben: Why? We are playing what.

Me: But you guys don’t ever keep.

Ben: Ohhkaay… we…will..keep… (moving around slowly to pack) Becky, come help!

Becks: Ohh…kaaay… (moving about slowly) Hey look, korkor… (pointing at me who’s packing at double speed) A SERVANT!

Ben and Becks: MUAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

An everyday sight

An everyday sight

No Money

Becks: Can I please buy donuts? Or fruit juice?

Me: No.

Ben: Can I buy more Transformers?

Me: No.

Ben: Why every time we ask you, you say no?

Becks: Ya lor… (on the verge of tearing)

Me: I have no money. Remember I don’t work? I don’t have money to buy frivolous things.

Ben: I have an idea. Go ask from Dada. Tell him “I need your money to buy toys and yummy food”.

Becks: I have an idea. GO AND WORK! We let you go.

Me: -_-

Since when do you kids order me around?

The two "big" bullies

The two “big” bullies

Getting all sentimental now Happy days Milestones and growing up Nat Kao The Kao Kids

Letter to my littlest #9

February 20, 2014

Dearest Nat,

Has it been two years since you filled our lives with so much laughter? Where did all the time go? When did my baby start growing up? Slow down, will you, baby boy? This growing up business is getting too fast for this mama’s heart to handle.

Nat_Day 7

Nat_Month 5

I still remember the little bundle I carried home a while ago and the squeals in the house everyone made in adoration of you. You stole the hearts of your big brother and sister the moment you came home and you have won their hearts ever since. We’re now a family of five and Ben and Becks cannot go through a day without being with you. The three of you play together every day and I pray that you will all play together as happy children for a long, long time.

Nat_Playing with Ben and Becks

Nat_Playing with Becks

You’re adorably funny and exasperatingly endearing. These days I call your name and you reply me with a “What?”. When I tell you to do something you ask me “Why?”. And when I ask you why this or that happens, you answer me with “Because”. You sing the Alphabet song every day and amuse us all by standing on the table to do it like it’s some rock performance. You chortle and chuckle many times a day even after you’ve been disciplined, and live each day clowning around with your funny antics. Every day is a riot with you and even though you get yelled at a lot for the naughty things you do, my greatest wish for you is that you’ll never change the way you are.

Nat_Month 12

Nat_Year 1

Be the happy, cheeky, sticky you, Nat. Always. Happy 2nd birthday!

Nat is 2

Nat at 2

Loving you to the moon and back, and to infinity and beyond,

Mama

All this blog's PR Stuff Reading fun Reviews

This Giraffe’s too Groovy – Singapore’s first online remainder bookstore

February 19, 2014

Growing up, I would make my father take me to the bookstore and leave me there to read for hours. My favourite hangout was the MPH at Robinson Road, where I had spent many hours of my childhood devouring the Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl classics.

There’s something about holding, touching, feeling and smelling new books that thrilled me then. The best part about going to a bookstore – and not the library – with my dad was that it was almost always a given to return home with new books to add to my book collection. (Dad, I’m sure you knew I always pretended I couldn’t put down a book so you could buy it for me, right?)

If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you’d know that I am on a quest to make avid readers of my kids. I’ve shared that we should by all means borrow, but nothing beats being able to have our own books  so that we can read and reread them.

Last year, I discovered The Groovy Giraffe, Singapore’s first official online remainder bookstore which sells heavily discounted new books that are overprints. The prices of books here are discounted up to as much as 85% and this giraffe is oh-so-groovy alright. So groovy that buying new books ain’t going to be burning a hole in your pocket anymore.

TGG

I recently shopped at The Groovy Giraffe again with the credits that the kind folks at The Groovy Giraffe gave me and managed to find the Read at Home First Experiences Series. The series is written with the aim of introducing young children to new situations and I am glad to have found them because these books are great starters to get the kids to talk about their feelings of their first experiences:

TGG_First Experiences Early Reader Books

We’ve been on a plane and to the pool, so these readers will be used as a springboard to get the kids to talk about how they felt.

The books arrived promptly within 3 working days after I checked out and paid, and I can’t wait to share them with the kids.

There is a decent variety of books for babies, toddlers, children and adults at The Groovy Giraffe. They even have assessment books and educational guides that are heavily discounted and sections for bargains and gift ideas. I particularly enjoy browsing at the Children’s Early Reader Books Section to check out titles that would interest the older kids, as well as the titles under Activity Books to see if I can find anything that wouldn’t cost me a bomb for the youngest to work on to keep him meaningfully occupied.

A screenshot of some of the bargains under Activity Books for Children - I'm thinking of getting 100 Stickers Series for some sticker fun for Nat!

A screenshot of some of the bargains under Activity Books for Children – I’m thinking of getting the 100 Stickers Series for some sticker fun for Nat!

There are also tips under ‘Babies’, ‘Toddlers’ and ‘Children’ to help you choose titles for children of different age groups and reading abilities, which is definitely helpful before you begin shopping!

TGG_Early Reader Books

Tips for choosing books for Preschoolers and Young Readers

If holding, touching, feeling and smelling new books thrill you – as it still does even now for me – you may want to consider popping by The Groovy Giraffe to shop for your books. Check out using the code “MOTHERKAO” to get a 5% off your purchases (except for Bargain books). There’s no expiry date to this code, so you can use it any time, whenever.

TGG_Motherkao blog button

My dad would have loved to meet this giraffe when he had an avid reader of a little girl that was me. I’m pretty sure it would have saved him so much money buying me new books so often.

Disclosure: I received credits to purchase some books from The Groovy Giraffe for the Kao kids. All opinions here are solely my own.

Becks Kao Milestones and growing up The Kao Kids

All pretty now

February 18, 2014

So I spoke too soon.

My sassy little girl, who is now three-half, has gone all girly-feminine on me.

Just like that, she’s suddenly taking a liking to pink things again and all things princessy.

She now insists on wearing a dress whenever we go out, when previously I got so much hell for wanting to put a dress on her…

A sporty dress for Sunday School!

A sporty dress for Sunday School!

A floral dress handed down from an older sister-friend

A floral dress handed down from an older sister-friend

I would have never been able to put this cheongsam on a couple of months ago

I would have never been able to put this cheongsam on a couple of months ago

She also MUST wear a dress to sleep now and dislikes the long-sleeve-top-and-pants ensemble which she used to love. She used to want to be like korkor and didi but well, not anymore.

She needs to wear a sweet PJ to sleep...

She needs to wear a sweet PJ to sleep…

She’s starting to like accessorising and making very tacky fashion choices like putting on everything at one go – hat, wristlet, necklace, bag and all the hair clips she’s got.

She loves to have her hair all clipped and tied now

She loves to have her hair all clipped and tied now

Gotta teach her less is more and classy is the way to go. Heh.

My mother already warned me there’ll be days like this; days of her putting on my shoes and wearing my makeup. I guess I’d better keep my blushers and lipsticks under lock and key for now.

"Look Ma! I can wear your heels!"

“Look Ma! I can wear your heels!”

I guess it’s a rite of passage for all girls to go through a phase of wishing to be like their mothers. These days, Becks is starting to want to be different from her brothers and is consciously trying to differentiate herself with the choices that she makes and the things that she do. I know deep down, she wants to get attention from me this way and wants to be affirmed by her mother as her mummy’s little precious princess.

Deep down, the little girl is crying out to me, saying, “Look at me, Mama. I may not be as smart like Korkor or as cute as Nat, but I am also special!”

And I’d be a fool of a mother if I didn’t know that and love her just as she is.

Becky love, you’re beautiful. You’ll always be our little darling princess.

Little Miss Becks_pretty in PE

All this blog's PR Stuff Homelearning fun Learning fun! Reading fun Reviews

At Home with bilingualism! [Read With Me Mommy’s “My Home (我的家)” Book Review]

February 13, 2014

I’m always searching for bilingual books with local content so my children can learn the vocabulary that’s associated with their daily lives. I mean, how many books can you find in the market that can effectively teach preschoolers names of items and places found in a typical home and HDB neighbourhoods in Singapore? Places like the community centre, HDB void deck and sports complex are unique to our country and hardly feature in Chinese or English picture books and graded readers for preschoolers.

So when Read With Me Mommy, a local online Chinese bookstore approached us to do a book review for this made in Singapore book-set, I couldn’t be more thrilled.

Finally! A book my children can identify with:

My Home_Book Set

My Home (我的家) is a set of bilingual books written by local authors, Rayne Ngoi and Cheng Pei Yee, and illustrated by Wang Lu Bo. It comes in a set of 2 books – a picture book and an accompanying activity book. The book follows Jason, an adorable boy who is looking for somebody to play with him (haha, it really is Ben in disguise – always looking for someone to play with!). But everyone at home is just too busy. And so together with his dog, Jason investigates every room in his HDB flat to find a playmate.

I got Ben to review this book with me during one of our once-a-week ‘Chinese Day’…

My Home_Ben the Book Reviewer

As we followed Jason through each room as he sought a playmate (and Ben seeing so much of him in the book as Jason, hurhurhur), we started discovering the many items and places that were all too familiar to us – places like the kitchen, the bathroom, the living room, the void deck and the HDB-neightbourhood playground.

My Home_Picture Book

My Home_Around the neighbourhood

And so we learned how to name items and places in both English and Chinese while enjoying the story (written like a poem) with vivid illustrations that were oh-so-very engaging. Ben particularly enjoyed lifting the many little flaps in this 40-page book which is beautifully illustrated.

The bilingual activity book complements the picture book and is specially written for children aged 2 to 6. The activity book contains vocabulary practices, hanyu pinyin learning aids, picture cards, interactive games, DIY handicraft, and sticker matching activities to make the process of learning fun and enjoyable. Here’s a sneak peek of some pages in the activity book:

My Home_Activity Book

My Home_Activity Book Game

This book-set is such a wonderful resource for keeps, and I would definitely introduce both the picture and activity books to the younger ones as soon as they are ready. The gem of a book retails at Read With Me Mommy for SGD$32 and is great to be read again and again especially with those  flaps that would keep little hands busy!

And I have a giveaway here on the blog!

I have 5 book-sets of My Home (我的家) to give away to 5 readers! To qualify for the random draw, all that’s needed is FOUR SIMPLE STEPS:

1) Like Read With Me Mommy on Facebook

2) Like Zenru Publishing on Facebook

3) Like Motherkao on Facebook (if you haven’t already done so)

4) Leave me a comment here telling me who you’d like to win the book-set for

Giveaway closes on 20 Feb and winners will be randomly picked and announced on the blog.

Do also check out Read With Me Mommy for more Chinese and bilingual titles!

And the winners are…

My Home Giveaway Winners

Congratulations! I hope the people you’d like to win this book set for would have a smashing time reading!

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

The epic Lego Movie experience (warning: contains spoilers!)

February 6, 2014

When he found out that we were going to catch the movie premiere of The Lego Movie, Ben couldn’t contain his excitement for days. He loves, loves, loves Lego and everything he can create with them (although it is still more of Duplo for now) and is a huge fan of the Lego Star Wars – The Movie (he’s watched it like 6 times, I think) ever since we showed it to him at home.

Lego Movie Posters

Lego Movie with Batman and Wyldstyle

We watched the premiere of The Lego Movie at Golden Village Vivocity  in 3D on Monday, and I must say…   *beep beep spoiler alert*

<cue to close page if you don’t want to know>

…that I was pleasantly surprised by the twist and the very heart-warming ending. I went in with zero expectations – I really don’t know what to expect from Lego blocks and Lego people, y’unno – but came out a really happy movie-goer.

So beyond the anyone-can-be-a-hero / the-ordinary-can-be-extraordinary message, I think what warmed all our hearts that evening was that the love between father-son was the overarching theme that ran through the computer-animated movie. And I have to say I liked that part best (the heartstrings-tugging part, although the action and humour were also great)  – especially since Fatherkao was also there to watch the movie with his sons, and even more especially since the boys (big and small) love, love, love to play with Lego together.

I did wish, however, that the management / logistics folks from the cinema would think about the kids and distribute a couple of kid-sized 3D glasses whenever they are screening a kid-friendly movie in 3D cos’ my kids absolutely hated putting them on. They were heavy and kept falling off; Nat couldn’t even wear one and had to watch the movie unfocused the whole time. Bah.

Lego Movie in 3D

No like these glasses, say Ben and Becks!

Nonetheless, the kids liked the show and Ben couldn’t stop going on and on about how “everyone can be a master builder” and that certainly is inspiring him to play with Lego more. Thank you, Golden Village, for the kind invitation to experience such an awesome theatrical adventure!

Looks like more Lego it is for the boy who would be turning five in a few weeks. I don’t have to think too hard about birthday presents this year.

Disclosure: We received tickets to watch the premiere of The Lego Movie from Golden Village. All opinions here are our own. 

Everyday fun! Family life as we know it Happy days Milestones and growing up The darndest kid quotes and antics

A tale of three camps

February 5, 2014

These kids do play well together on good days. These days the house is nicely split into two camps: the Domesticated Camp and the Grunting zoom-vroom-bsssh-cheebaaaboooom! Camp, helmed by Becks and Ben respectively.

Domesticated camp

The Domesticated Camp, where the sorting and folding never ends

Grunting boys camp

The Grunting Boys Camp, where the world is what you imagine to be and the noise you make never ends

Of course, Nat has pledged allegiance to both sides, and is a much sought-after member of each camp. I’m just glad that one is teaching my 23-month-old how to fold towels and the other is teaching him how to squawk like a boy with Lego and Transformers.

I’m really not complaining.

These good days must be cherished and I’ve since started my own: the Tired People Camp. I told the kids that they are welcome to join me any time.

Tired camp, where all you do is zzzzzz

The Tired People Camp, where the Zzzzz never ends

Can’t wait to receive new members!

All this blog's PR Stuff Learning fun!

Learning from insects! I Theatre’s The Ant and the Grasshopper Giveaway

February 4, 2014

One of the first few Bible verses I learned – and remembered – as a child was from Proverbs 6:6:

“Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!”

I remember my teacher sharing the verse during devotion in kindergarten that God wants us to learn from the ants but I never really knew what to learn from them until I heard the famed Aesop fable about hard work and planning for days of necessity. This fable has taught me much as a little girl, and the verse from the Bible is forever cemented in my mind.

I’m glad that I’d be getting the opportunity to tell my kids this tale – because I Theatre‘s first production for 2014 is …

I Theatre The Ant & the Grasshopper

This!

The Ant and the Grasshopper promises to be a bright, breezy musical for the whole family with colourful characters, puppets and tuneful, catchy songs. It’s going to be a fast-paced and interactive production based on the famous Aesop fable with unexpected twists and turns for the little ones aged 3 onwards and all grown-ups alike. The play will explore the key themes of hard work, friendship and generosity, so this is the perfect opportunity to have the little ones learn about these important values in life.

And I have 2 sets of family tickets (for 4) to give away on the blog!

I Theatre is giving away 2 sets of 4 tickets to TWO of Motherkao’s readers for the performance at Jubilee Hall (Raffles Hotel) on 8 March 2014 (Saturday) at 2.30pm.

To qualify for the random draw, simply do these 3 things:

1) LIKE I Theatre’s Facebook page 

2) LIKE Motherkao’s FB page (if you haven’t already done so!)

3) Leave a comment here telling me a fable you remember as a child

Giveaway ends 10 Feb 2014. Results will be announced here on 11 Feb 2014. Winners will be notified by email and have to collect their tickets from the I Theatre’s office at 27 Ker­bau Road Singapore 219163.

P/S: Please join the giveaway only if you’re able to make it on 8 March (2.30pm) and can collect the tickets!

PP/S: You can also purchase tickets from Sistic.

SO HERE ARE THE WINNERS OF THE GIVEAWAY…

I Theatre Ant & Grasshopper Winners

Congrats, Wenquan and Waiwai! We’ll be in touch soon!