Monthly Archives

April 2014

Close encounters with the maid kind Family life as we know it

Maid woes, Part 5

April 30, 2014

What?! I am not believing this. I’m writing a Part 5?!?!

%^!@#$%*!!@#$%&*^%$?!

So.

The new domestic helper came and was settling ok. Other than the fact communication broke down a lot due to a lack of language proficiency, I thought I caught a glimpse of this girl really trying. I mentioned in an earlier post that she couldn’t cook for her life – and even made my littlest some soup noodles that resembled gooey puke – but that, apparently, became history.

I passed her some cook books, and wa la! Like magic, she suddenly was able to cook a decent meal. Even the kids liked her cooking.

Of course, she’s got huge shoes to fill with the previous helper being way too capable – and stronger physically. She’s all bones and looked a lot paler than the previous. Ok, anyone would look pale standing next to our previous helper if you’ve seen the previous. She did also appear a little too stressed out handling a chaotic household with three kids, plus having to understand a new language and adapting to our lifestyle. I kept having to worry for her because we rushed a lot from place to place and still wanted to eat in more than out (which means meal planning is essential at the start of each day). There’s always two huge baskets of laundry to do, too many clothes to fold and sort, toilets to scrub (my son aims quite poorly and my daughter sometimes jump off before she’s done, and I’m not even going to try toilet training the littlest yet) and plenty of things to carry from groceries to bags to water bottles. She did look like she could crumble under the weight of things, literally.

Because she was like the fourth kid I had to mind, guess who ended doing the bulk of the chores?

During the second week, she began to display signs of a lack of mental resilience. And then I also found out that she constantly felt tired and was also much younger than what the papers said she was (I wonder what her intention was by coming clean). By the third week, she seemed unable to cope, and I often had to nag her about keeping well and staying physically and mentally strong to help out in a household with three kids. She started – on an on and off basis – telling me perhaps I should go look for another helper and hinted that she may be better off caring for one child or an elderly folk. I made a mental note of her hints and started asking for recommendations from friends who hired domestic helpers of another nationality.

Now, she began to really annoy me a few days ago doing the “I-want-to-work-for-you-I’m-not-sure-I-think-you-should-get-someone-better” dance. Maybe she was feeling insecure, maybe she felt she needed more compliments than criticisms, but whatever it was, I did what she suggested: look around for someone of a better fit than her.

Long story short: she found out two days ago of my decision to not keep her after a month was up, and suddenly, she had breathlessness, tiredness and pain in her heart. She claimed she wanted her misery to end and asked me to send her back immediately yesterday. And it wasn’t even a month yet! Needless to say I was furious and demanded that she be counselled by her agent. The agent cajoled her and convinced her to work her keep of a month’s salary and after the phone call ended, she apologised for her immaturity.

Despite solo parenting yesterday with three kids in tow, I was so turned off by her childishness I refused the apology and sent her back to the agency by a taxi yesterday afternoon.

No way am I keeping someone like this in my house. Good riddance anyway.

A good domestic helper in Singapore is really hard to find. I’m not sure if everything will go well with the new new helper, and if we will all be a good fit for each other. All I’m asking for is an extra pair of hardworking and honest hands to help me out while my little children still need to be minded and cared for, a peace of mind when I leave them with her when my work needs to get done and a humble attitude to learn and adapt. Not very complicated, isn’t it?

finding a good fit

I just need an acceptable fit!

Until then, I am Mom Maid again. And I’m hoping not to ever write a Part 6 on this space, which has become a series in itself already with a Part 1,  2,  3,  4 and now this. No thanks to all these foreign domestic helper woes, I now too experience breathlessness, tiredness and pain in my heart (for the money we have to part with).

Going to have to train and ready those little troopers, I say. And get ready to play MITKH* v.2!

If you have any maid woes, I would love to commiserate with you. Share them with me in the comments below!

*Maidless in the Kao Household (read about version 1 here)

The Kao Kids Thunderstorm days What to Expect... As a Mother

The day has already ended for me

April 29, 2014

Dammit

Dammit.

It’s 9 am that I’m writing this and the day has already gone downhill. I am angry and exasperated. My blood’s reached boiling point and I am so ready to call it a day, curl up in bed and wake up the next morning.

So I thought I should start waking up consistently earlier a few days a week to get some work done. I’ve been following this blog and getting inspired to make some small changes in my life. I’ve been waking up with the kids (I sleep with them in their room) or sometimes later than them (if I stayed up to catch up on Running Man which I am currently addicted to) ever since Fatherkao started making the huge sacrifice of taking public transport and letting me sleep in instead of having me send him to work. I used to wake up at 6.30am to send him to work and every time I did that, the kids would also be up by 7 am bawling their eyes out. Don’t ask me why. It’s probably because they can’t find their mother and can’t go back to sleep without her. But if I slept till 9 am with them, they would usually all wake up fresh, happy and contented.

Waking up together with them has guaranteed me well-settled kids for the good part of the morning, except that now that I work from home, I’ve essentially gotten zero work done on most days. I try to stay up to do my planning and writing but I usually get so exhausted I just want to tune out, watch something on my iPad to wind down and go to sleep. It’s been a real challenge trying to find time to work while being constantly there for the kids and sometimes this becomes impossible.

Like today.

I got up at 7, saw that everyone in the room was sound asleep and crept stealthily out of bed to shower and get ready. There was editing to do, programme write-ups to think about and blog posts to plan for and I am all ready to lock myself in the study for an hour of productive work.

Then I got out of the shower and saw the little girl sprawled in front of me, awake but groggy and wanting all my attention. She whined and refused to get on with the routine for brushing teeth and having breakfast. Worse still, Nat also sensed the mom absence in the room and woke up upset and clingy. They both hung around the study, threw crayons and colour pencils (and whined some more while at that) and started squabbling. The new helper was completely helpless and totally incompetent in handling children (more on her soon in another post) and had no ability whatsoever to get the kids to listen to her.

Recipe for an explosive outburst from me there, I say.

At the breakfast table which I made everyone sit, they were making faces at the bread I bought from Crystal Jade last night and whining non stop for me. I tried two rounds of calm, patient talking and told the kids that they needed to eat and I would need to get some work done but MORE whining ensued, complete with legs kicking, chairs falling and hissy fits. Before I knew it, I morphed into my monster self, screamed at Nat and Becks for their poor behaviour and the maid for just sitting there not being able to handle the situation.

I only needed one hour. One hour to be productive. And it can’t even happen.

And then Ben woke up from all this commotion and things started happening on an even bigger scale. So after Mom’s outburst they were all suddenly cooperative and eating their breakfast and then decided that they wanted to play together. For a total of 5 minutes before the eldest started to complain about everyone else, namely his sister for eating into his space and his brother for throwing things and then more fighting ensued as they started to snatch toys and push one another. Now I have three kids fully awake, giving each other dagger stares and exasperating me to the point I want to scream in their faces and tell them all to go back to bed.

I only needed one hour. One hour to be productive. And it can’t even happen.

It’s extremely annoying that these kids can’t continue to sleep without the mother presence. It’s even more annoying that they can’t seem to share and play together peacefully and happily ever after. In days like these, I often question if I’ve gone all wrong with the way I parent them; if I made the wrong decision to have more than one kid (one kid = nobody to fight with = peace in the house); if I made the wrong move to do three kids back to back; if I had done the stupidest thing to co-sleep; if I had pursued the wrong cause of wanting to start something of my own; if they are like this because I stayed home.

I only needed one hour. One hour to be productive. And it can’t even happen.

And I’m the one all ready to bawl my eyes out now.

Ecard credit: thelaughingstork.com

Ecard credit: thelaughingstork.com

What about you? Do you have days like these? Misery loves company, so hit the comment button and share your misery with me!

Everyday fun! Homelearning fun Learning fun! Milestones and growing up The Kao Kids

Food, nutrition & some serious fun in the kitchen

April 26, 2014

This month’s homelearning revolved around food and nutrition, and I also took the opportunity to teach my kids two simple skills: using a knife and frying an egg.

We had some serious (oxymoronic) fun, yes.

First, a tour of the kitchen to learn simple vocabulary for egg frying: STOVE, PAN, OIL, EGGS, WOK SPATULA, WHISK.

Then to get acquainted with all the sharp objects in the drawers so they know to handle them with care whenever we need to use them: (from right to left) PEELER, GRATER, KITCHEN SCISSORS, PARING KNIFE, UTILITY KNIFE, COOK’S KNIFE, CHOPPER (hidden in picture)

Homelearning_kitchen tools_sharp objects

Hold on tight: You know they’re a little bit DANGEROUS here!

Then, it’s tofu cutting time since we were going to be having tofu soup that evening anyway. Ben used the utility knife while Becks held the paring knife. I got them to gently touch the blade to understand the concept of “sharp” and had them dice the tofu with their knives.

Next, three eggs out from the fridge for each kid, and cracked into a bowl. Because it was their first, I held their hands to crack it with them. Got them to whisk, then had them pour a little oil, feel for heat about 5cm above the pan and pour in the egg. Then they scrambled them, served some to their father and savoured the remainder.

Homelearning_egg frying

Scrambling to scramble eggs

On another occasion, we chopped up celery, potatoes and carrots for our vegetable soup. This time round the kids understood that unlike cutting the tofu which was soft and easy, they had to hold on to the vegetables and watch their fingers while they exerted pressure with the knife. I gave the littlest a steak knife and had the helper watch him while I made sure the older two didn’t slice their fingers.

Homelearning_knife skills

Seriously fun to be chopping and slicing

After we were done, we threw everything in water to boil with chicken bones for soup!

I later asked the kids if they liked what they did – and they were very proud to have helped made a part of our dinner that night. What they shared with me made me realise that I’ve got to gradually learn to empower these kids to pick up age-appropriate skills so they can experience a sense of accomplishment.

I followed up with getting the kids to learn the words CUT, SLICE, KNIFE and VEGETABLES. Ben could easily form three sentences with these helping words, like “I cut with a knife.” / “I slice with a knife.” / “I cut vegetables.” I also got the kids to recount their experience by drawing what they did and then put their drawings up on the gallery so they can tell ‘stories’ to their dad when he returned home.

Homelearning_vocab and drawing

Recounting what they did with paper and crayons

We also read some books we borrowed from the library to learn the importance of nutrients for our bodies and our growth. These two books scored with the kids, cos’ we got to sing two very funny songs while learning about good food and our taste buds!

Food books_Singalong

“Fabulous Food” and “I Taste Sing and Read” from NLB

Here’s sharing how to sing the two songs with you:

Song 1 – To the tune of Farmer in the Dell

“What makes bones grow?
What makes teeth grow?
Milk and yogurt, cream and cheese,
Calcium makes them grow.
 
What makes blood strong?
What makes muscles strong?
Fish and spinach, nuts and eggs,
Protein makes them strong.
 
Why can we move well?
Why can we breathe well?
Wheat and rice, oats and corn,
Carbohydrates keep us well.
 
We know what to eat,
We know what to eat.
Fruits, vegetables, bread and meat
Now let’s go and eat!”
***

Song 2 – To the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

“Your tongue tells you what tastes sweet
Honey, jam, an ice cream treat
Watermelon, peaches, too
Fresh fruit is so good for you
Your tongue tells a lot, it’s true
Salty, bitter, nasty, too.
 
Your tongue tells you what tastes sour
Vinegar on cauliflower
Grapefruit, limes and sour cream
Citrus-flavoured jellybeans
Your tongue tells a lot, it’s true
You have taste buds, lucky you.”
***

We followed up the taste buds-song with a fun activity of observing our taste buds in the mirror and adding little bumps to a giant tongue – on paper, that is. I wrote the words SALTY, SWEET, SOUR, BITTER and TONGUE so that the kids can repeat the vocabulary that describes taste as they drew on the giant tongue.

Tastebud activity

Come near and the giant tongue will lick you up!

It’s been a tastily fun month, and I am looking forward to enlisting these little troopers in the kitchen whenever I need help!

Becks Kao Ben Kao Homelearning fun Learning fun!

Teaching the Kao Kids: Routines II

April 23, 2014

Homelearning

There’s a new wall the kids have to face these days.

Our humble five-room flat is already looking like a day care. Might as well maximise every empty space for learning.

In order to create a print rich environment, I’ve put up two charts which I bought from a spree with some other mothers (SGD$15 for 1 from Taobao) and used the pockets to put in word cards for Ben (we’re currently still blending word) and letter cards (uppercase and lowercase letters) for Becks.

Ben's chart with Blends

Ben’s chart with Blends

Becks' chart with Letters + her weekly word cards from Berries

Becks’ chart with Letters + her weekly word cards from Berries

I change the cards in the pockets frequently but before I do so, they would have had faced their charts for at least a week.

It’s no punishment at all here in this house. We just like to face the wall, that’s all.

 

Here’s what I wrote about Routines, Part 1

Check out the other posts in the series:

TTKK Logo

Becks Kao Ben Kao Family life as we know it Happy days Milestones and growing up The Kao Kids

What Easter means to us

April 22, 2014

Is it me or did I see more eggs everywhere this year? Chocolates eggs were aplenty in stores, and Cold Storage’s even selling those bunny-ears-nose fix-on for cars, much like those reindeer antlers we’ve seen during Christmas.

Easter has been commercially packaged as an occasion for eggs and cute little bunnies.

Back at home, we did take the opportunity to organise an egg hunt for the Kao kids, much to their delight. And that was ONLY because we ran out of almonds and walnuts to hide, and there were too many pretty eggs we couldn’t resist at the supermarkets.

This time round, the treasure they must find are chocolate eggs that would get to eat!

This time round, the treasure they must find are chocolate eggs that would get to eat! (Don’t ask me why Becks is walking around with a bolster in her singlet.)

We even went for an Egg Fiesta at Sentosa. There was some serious egg hunting and walking on eggs there at the Emerald Pavilion at Siloso Beach, complete with some little chicks a-dancing.

We were at the Egg Fiesta 2014 at Sentosa on Good Friday for some eggy fun!

We were at the Egg Fiesta 2014 at Sentosa on Good Friday for some eggy fun!

Not related to eggs completely but there was this cool mobile human table and colourful snacks

Not related to eggs completely but there was this cool mobile human table and colourful snacks that I just needed to snap a picture of

We had fun this Easter, yes, we did.

But the kids never once linked rabbits, chicks and eggs to the reason for Easter. Ask them if Easter is about egg hunting, and Ben and Becks will tell you no.

Instead, they will tell you Easter is about this:

Craft work Ben did in school to celebrate Easter

Craft work Ben did in school to celebrate Easter

And this:

"This means Jesus died on the cross, He was in the grave then He rose from the dead." -Artist: Becks Kao

“This means Jesus died on the cross, He was in the grave then He rose from the dead.” – Artist: Becks Kao

So yes, we’ve done a couple of egg hunts, painted some egg shells, ate our fill of egg-shaped chocos and Kinder Bueno and even walked on eggs (and then Becks cracked some, hurhurhur).

But the kids know this: Easter is about Jesus Christ who died on the cross and who rose again from the dead; and that to them and me is the reason why we celebrate.

They did ask me how that happened though – how Jesus rose from the dead.

My answer?

“Don’t ask me how. Ask me why.”

Ben: Why, Mama? Why must Jesus rise from the dead?

Me: Because if He only died on the cross, we would only be forgiven. But because He rose from the dead, we are justified forever.

Ben: What is ‘justified’, Mama?

Me: It means we are right with God and He will never be angry with us again. Ever.

Ben: So now God loves us forever, is it?

Me: Yes.

Becks: It’s the power divine. Jesus died, for three days He was in the grave, and He rose again.

Whoa.

And suddenly I’m reminded of this verse in Isaiah 54:13

“And all your children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be their peace.”

Amazing how a mere mortal like this frazzled mother drops a seed into these babes, and His Word blossoms in their hearts.

Hope you celebrated His resurrection with much joy like I did!

Easter_Jesus lives

All this blog's PR Stuff Food, glorious food! Reviews The Kao Kids

Prata flipping fun at Casuarina Curry Restaurant

April 21, 2014

Before I start this post, can I say for the record that I’m not saying all these because Casuarina Curry Restaurant invited us?

I’m a huge fan of their crispy pratas, teh tahrik and chicken masala, have been a regular there since forever, and it is my favourite place for roti prata EVER.

Ok, just need to get that out first.

Now you can imagine how stoked I was when they got us to attend their prata-making workshop.

Don’t play play, ok. Prata restaurants like them have blogger relations and can also make prata experts out of you.

My kids were equally thrilled, having also tasted their crispy plain pratas, egg pratas, plaster pratas and tissue pratas on many a breakfast outing with the husband and me. And they couldn’t wait to get their hands on the dough and learn how to flip them!

And so to the restaurant at Upper Thomson we went.

Before we began, we met our Master Teacher, Uncle Babu, had our hands all scrubbed and cleaned, and watched a demo by the Master himself…

First, a demo by the Master

First, a demo by the Master

Then we proceeded to oil the dough and knead it with the ball of our palms…

Ben kneading

Ben kneading

And now it's Becks' turn to knead

And now it’s Becks’ turn to knead

And learned the really tricky technique of flipping the prata dough!

Flipping our dough! (ft. Becks, Ben, Mom-in-law, Motherkao with Uncle Babu)

Flipping our dough! (ft. Becks, Ben, Mom-in-law, Motherkao with Uncle Babu)

It looks easy but I assure it is nothing like what it looks. Apparently, the prata dough must be flipped only with the wrist of the left hand while the right hand does not move; and it must be done swiftly and deftly.

And clearly, our DNA would have none of such talent.

The kids know it, and they ended up making Zorro masks with huge holes.

And then there were holes !

And then there were holes !

And we all had a good laugh!

Not experts, but a photo with the expert

Not experts, but a photo with the expert

When we were finally done, we were presented with a certificate. Then it was time to eat! We sat down for a hearty meal of pratas, masalas and teh tahriks.

We did a better job eating than flipping, that’s for sure.

We are, afterall, CERTIFIED (not)!

We are, afterall, CERTIFIED (not)!

Our very delish food

Our very delish food

What a feast it was indeed!

Prata for dinner!

Prata for dinner!

To the folks at Casuarina Curry Restaurant: all you prata masters rock! I love your food and the fact that everything you serve is made with so much pride at such affordable prices. Thank you for having us on such a crazily busy Saturday evening!

The ever-entertaining Prata Masters behind the glass window

The ever-entertaining Prata Masters behind the glass window

To Uncle Babu who impressed us with your skills of flipping pratas, the kids had a wonderful time and first experience that evening. This is a drawing from Becks the day after, and it’s specially dedicated to you.

Becks and Uncle Babu: Her prata has many holes, as you can see!

Becks and Uncle Babu: Her prata has many holes, as you can see!

For $15, you can attend a 2-hour prata making workshop and enjoy an all-you-can-eat prata-buffet (plain pratas only) with one free drink. Top up an additional $5 and you can enjoy an all-you-can-eat prata-buffet of assorted pratas with one free drink. I say, this is a must-try for prata lovers and young children, and a good place to bring our foreigner friends should they come for a visit!

Prata Making Workshop

And because I shared this with you, if you can’t finish what you ordered at your all-you-can-eat-prata buffet after the workshop, you know who to call!

Disclosure: We were invited to Casuarina Curry Restaurant for their Prata-Making Workshop. The kind folks at Casuarina picked up the tab and no monetary compensation was received. All opinions here are Motherkao’s own.

Close encounters with the maid kind Family life as we know it

Maid Woes, Part 4 (Didn’t think I would need to write one after so long!)

April 17, 2014

Stay home mom ecard

So we’re back to more madness these days for reasons of another kind.

My capable domestic helper has left us.

Excuse me while I go lament the fact that I’ve never had my domestic helpers stay to finish their contract for 2 years.

We first got our domestic helper when I was pregnant with Becks. We decided – despite our extreme reluctance to get live-in help – that we would give up our privacy for more time with our kids. We will outsource the washing, cleaning, cooking and packing to the helper while we will give (the remaining of) our energy to play with the kids. We were both working full-time then. The last thing we wanted to do after a day’s work is to labour in front of the sink or to hang out the laundry.

Our first helper lasted about one year nine months because I discovered she was lying to me. She was using our house phone to chit chat in the day – and with men – and vehemently denied when I questioned. I later found out from our neighbours, after sending her home, that she would scoot off  downstairs in the day while Ben was at childcare to chit chat with different men. I value honesty and integrity more than competence, and so she was history.

Our second helper was a godsend. She was the rich young thing I wrote about in 2012 herehere and here and she came to Singapore to experience new things. She said it was better than bumming around jobless, and she was a tough and earnest cookie, this one, all enthusiastic and ready to learn and work. Unfortunately, she also suffered some pain in her ears after a year of working for us, and after consulting a couple of GPs and two ENT specialists and burning a hole in our pockets, I had to send her home to seek treatment on her own. She was well-to-do anyway and could well afford a CT scan which we can’t afford for her. Ben and Becks remember her till this day because she was such a sporty ‘Aunty’ who would piggyback them, teach them all the Korean she knew from watching Korean dramas and make them laugh with her horrible English.

Our third one lasted no more than four days with her poor attitude. I wrote about how angry I was with myself for choosing her – the fair-skinned one instead of the dark-skinned one – and ended up having to send her home. I eventually got the dark-skinned one and this helper was the best we’ve ever had. She’s a workhorse and a terrific cook. This was one woman who single-handedly cooked up a feast for 30 people for Becks’ rainbow party and the same one who would make the yummiest curries from fish and chicken to beef and vegetables. We’ve had friends over for countless curry pig-outs, thanks to her. She also does a great job massaging my children’s soles every night like a pro, and making delicious lunches for the littlest every day from fried bee hoon to sliced fish soup and bolognaise.

Her mother was gravely ill last year and we did let her return home to take care of things like hospitalisation and surgery, and that was when I played the ‘Maidless in the Kao Household’ Game version 1. Those were very tough 5 days, I tell you, having lived with very capable help for about a year or so.

Last week, the poor girl told us regrettably that her mother was gravely ill and it seemed like there was no hope. She said she needed to return home. The kids were saddened, and so was she as she had hoped to work another 5 years for us; and Fatherkao and I felt extremely sorry for our stomachs, and her mother, of course.

We miss her cooking so much.

I am working a lot more from home these days and it is indeed a blessing to have efficient live-in help who can pretty much run the household while I need to be working. With her, I could pretty much leave her to take care of the physical needs of the kids while I prepared homelearning lessons, did my freelance writing, blog and design the preschool curriculum for my business. And now with her departure, I am back to square one of having to train the new helper and keep an eye on her until I can trust her to be on her own.

First-world problems, I know.

My new helper is settling ok. She’s enthusiastic, loves children and has a positive attitude. Except that she CANNOT COOK FOR HER LIFE. I am devastated. I’m back in the kitchen again, organising the larder and planning lunch and dinner and I am missing good food in the house.

Finding a helper is like buying a pair of gloves. I have only had the opportunity of buying gloves twice to vacation in winter, and even then there were so many things to consider. You want a good fit. You want to be able to move your fingers freely. You want to feel comfy and not scratchy. You want those gloves to keep you warm yet not have you perspire profusely in between those fingers. And. Do you want it floral? All chic black? In satin? Wool?

We’ve all got different needs, preferences and priorities. I need my helper to look pleasant and smile often, because the kids need to know we didn’t kidnap a slave to work for us. I need her to be particular about hygiene. And speaking of which, you can do absolutely nothing if your helper smells, as I have discovered. It’ll be mean to send her back for this reason. And the only thing you can do is get her lots of deodorant. I also need her to be able to handle stress taking care of three young kids, especially when we’re rushing or when the kids are unwell and be an extended pair of hands and legs. I need her to be able to operate appliances as we automate quite a fair bit in this home. Aack, I need her to be so many things. I need her to be able to cook so it frees me up to work in the evenings. Sadly with this one, it ain’t happening.

Hello everyone, I’m Motherkao and I’m going to be Mom Maid again, at least for a while.

Mom maid

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 darnest things we say (IV)

April 16, 2014
Bitten by the wanderlust bug!

Bitten by the wanderlust bug!

Wanderlust’s been taking over the Kao kids these days and they’ve been asking again and again when they can be on the aeroplane. We’ve only been to Hongkong once last year and the kids have tremendously fond memories of that trip. Speaking of planes, we’ve been sighting at least three flying above us every day. I guess one of the perks of living near Seletar Airbase is that the kids get to revisit that memory of being on a plane every day hearing those planes zoom past.

Ben: Can you bring us to Europe, Mama? Can we go to Italy? Or America? Or Japan?

Becks: Can we go to Hongkong again?

Ben: Can we go to Disneyland, please?

Ben & Becks: Puuleeeazzze, Mama? Please?

Me: Guys, we need to make time, and we need to have money. All these need planning, you know.

Becks: Mama, do you know Navin has a plan? He’s already in Australia.

Me: *cue rofl laughter*

(FYI: Navin is Becks’ classmate who’s emigrated to Perth recently. He’s been telling her that he would be living in Australia and she’s ENVIOUS.)

***

Ben: What’s going to happen if you need to sleep on the airplane?

Me: You just sleep lor.

Ben: Then your pillow?

Me: There’s one on the plane.

Becks: How about bolster?

Me: I guess you gotta bring your own. Like you did bringing your Penguin Bolster.

Nat: HOW ABOUT BED????

I know, I know, somebody’s thinking of first class already.

***

The Kao kids and their fond memories on the plane

The Kao kids and their fond memories on the plane

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

A day out at Changi Naval Base, and dashing the kids’ dream of being bucaneers

April 11, 2014

Sometime ago, we were invited to a fun day out at Changi Naval Base and to attend the sending-off ceremony of the RSS Tenacious which would be deployed to the Gulf of Aden as part of Singapore’s commitment to international counter-piracy efforts.

Now I don’t know about you, but I am super eager to have my kids meet some real soldiers and learn about the mean stuff real pirates do and how our soldiers help protect us from them. I mean, every mother – and I say this with respect – with boys need to teach their kids that pirates ARE NOT GOOD GUYS and Jake, Cubby and Izzy in Jake and the Neverland Pirates will never ever be seen in real life.

So off we went to Changi Naval Base where I was really looking forward to burst that ‘Ahoy-Matey-Yo-Ho-Ho’ bubble.

We were first taken on a guided tour at the Navy Museum, and what an enlightening experience it was. We learned about the various missions in which the Navy provided relief and assistance for, the equipment and weapons the Navy use to safeguard maritime security, as well as how the Singapore Navy became the modern and integrated maritime fighting force we know today.

The kids were excited to be looking at big guns and model vessels…

CNB_Navy Museum

As well as try on mini-sized Navy uniforms… (pity there was no extra extra small for Nat!)

CNB_Navy Uniforms

I just had to get my children to learn how to salute after they put on those uniforms. Here’s a salute to all of you out there keeping our shores and seas safe. Thank you for doing a great job!

CNB_Navy Uniform Salute

After staying a while at the Navy Museum, we headed to the Naval Base itself (we’ve gotten security clearance for that) where we witnessed the sending off ceremony of the RSS Tenacious. The RSS Tenacious (a formidable-class multi-role stealth frigate), together with a Republic of Singapore Air Force Sikorsky S-70B Seahawk naval helicopter and a 151-strong task force were off to counter piracy in the Gulf of Aden for three months.

CNB_RSS Tenacious

These are men and women with families and loved ones, and they rock big time, putting their lives on the line. These are sons, fathers, brothers, daughters and sisters volunteering to go and rising beyond their call of duty so we can have safer seas, not pirate-infested ones. And while we waited to wave our goodbyes – and I knew it would be so much harder for that little girl who stood next to us waving goodbye to her daddy – I said a prayer thanking God for these men and women that are doing Singapore proud. I don’t know how these people do it; I had no one I knew onboard and yet my heart ached so much just to know that peace comes at such a sacrifice and these people are saying goodbye to the people they love who would be gone for three whole months on a potentially dangerous mission.

CNB_RSS Tenacious Sending Off

I also took the chance to tell Ben and Becks, who were piqued with so much curiosity as to why we have to say goodbye to these men in blue uniforms –  that piracy is no joke, that there’s no such thing as a good pirate these days, and that we need brave people like them who would safeguard the seas so we can all sleep in peace. Even Captain Hook who is nice enough to sometimes return Jake and his friends their treasures isn’t a real representation of these baddies who would attack oil tankers and merchant vessels with big guns and sophisticated weapons.

“So pirates are not good guys, Mama?” Ben asked after I explained. “Awww…”

Yep, bubble’s burst. Not cartoon series, not movie here eh. We’re talking about real dangers, hello?

CNB_RSS Tenacious Off to Gulf of Aden

After the farewell, we proceeded with a windshield tour of the Naval Base to check out more vessels and submarines, which was way too cool for common folks like you and me to grasp. Unless you were with the Navy, you never would be seeing this…

CNB_Submarine

A submarine!

And this…

A US Vessel docking at Changi Naval Base

A US Vessel docking at Changi Naval Base

And this…

The Swift Rescue, which was recently deployed to search for the missing MH370

The Swift Rescue, which was recently deployed to search for the missing MH370

Awesome much, don’t you think?

It was a really meaningful day out for our family, and we were so touched by the hospitality and friendliness of our hosts who are proud and passionate people who believe in what they do. We’re really privileged to get this opportunity, and I really have the good people from the Republic of Singapore Navy to thank.

Photo credit: Deborah from owlswellblog.wordpress.com

Photo credit: Deborah from owlswellblog.wordpress.com

The Navy Museum at Changi Naval Base is open to the public and admission is free. It’s open from 9am to 5pm from Mondays to Fridays and 9am to 3pm on Saturdays. For more information, visit the Museum’s website. Guided tours are available for 10 people or more.

If you would like send your support to the 151 people onboard the RSS Tenacious and give them a virtual pat of their backs, you can leave messages of encouragement and love at the Singapore Navy’s Sea of Support page. Connect with the Republic of Singapore Navy on their facebook page for updates on their latest events and missions.

Ben Kao Everyday fun! Family life as we know it Milestones and growing up The Kao Kids The real supermom

Of drawings and homework for Mom

April 9, 2014

My kids are finally drawing things that make sense.

And labelling them so that we know what they are, just in case we can’t make out what they are drawing.

I’m glad I was one of those parents that allowed them to draw and draw (on paper, that is) when they were ready to start and held my tongue when I could make no sense of what they did. And boy am I also glad I refrained from giving too much feedback and making too many adult comments because gone are the days of colour globs and splashes, human beings with no limbs and animals that look like extraterrestrial creatures.

I can’t get these days – and drawings – back anymore.

Ben's drawings of animals at 4 years old

Ben’s drawings of animals at 4 years old

Becks' art: I always wondered what they were

Becks’ art: I always wondered what they were

More things that leave me wondering

More things that leave me wondering

While those former days were cute, these days I’m seeing even cuter things.

Now Becks is drawing more recognisable stick people...

Now Becks is drawing more recognisable stick people…

...And me on a bad day

… Me on a bad day

... And me on a good day - ain't I pretty?

… And me on a good day – ain’t I pretty?

Little Nat can also draw many basketballs (his favourite!)

Little Nat can also draw many basketballs (his favourite!)

And this is Ben's version of me!

And this is Ben’s version of me, which has evolved (the one above was drawn a year earlier)!

More recognisable zoo animals now, as compared to half a year ago

More recognisable zoo animals now, as compared to half a year ago

I even get homework from my eldest, who thinks it’s absolute fun to be designing worksheets for me to do. He leaves them on my desk with “instructions” by blending each word he cannot spell by heart and writing them on the worksheet. Since then, I’ve done a couple of Chinese characters, navigated through mazes he designed and even had to “grow” people in boxes.

He leaves me notes to read...

He leaves me notes to read…

This is for me to guess. G for...?

This is for me to guess. G for…?

So one day I came home and found that I needed to do 习字 !!!

So one day I came home and found that I needed to do 习字 !!!

Plus navigate these mazes to get animals out of trouble

Plus navigate these mazes to get animals out of trouble

And this is the one I'm supposed to grow people in boxes. Ben meant 'draw' actually!

And this is the one I’m supposed to grow people in boxes. Ben meant ‘draw’ actually!

So on top of doing school runs, enrichment runs, grocery runs and hospital runs, I come home now to a pile of worksheets needing to be completed. The day my little girl and the littlest follow their older brother (to give me worksheets, that is), I tell you, I’m so going to be one exhausted mother.

Am not complaining, actually, because these kids entertain me tremendously with what they are drawing. Motherhood just got better.