Monthly Archives

July 2014

All this blog's PR Stuff Milestones and growing up Nat Kao The Kao Kids

We all breathe easy now, all thanks to Drypers Drypantz – phew!

July 30, 2014

Most parents use pants diapers when their child is ready for toilet training. Afterall, this wonderful invention disguising diapers as cool-looking, puffy-soft undies (or training pants, as many call it) can help so much in preventing accidents and unnecessary stress for both parent and child. We tell our little one, Look at you. You’re older now. You’ve been promoted. To this thing called pants diapers. And when you think you want to do a wee, just pull this down, ok?

When I had my first kid, yea, this was exactly what I did. It was the rite of passage for every child. It was the rite of passage for every mom. I bought Ben a trainer urinal and used pants diapers when he was 18 months to tell him that it can be pulled down so he could pee directly at the urinal whenever the urge came. But if he couldn’t go fast enough, he didn’t need to worry at all about anything.

We succeeded with toilet training in no time.

When I had Becks, it got smoother. Regardless of whether she was wearing diapers or pants diapers, that little girl disliked them and preferred to wear Hello Kitty underwear. Those pink things were her incentives and motivation to get potty training right and settled. These days the pants diapers serve a different function with her at 4 years old. You see, she’s a clean freak like me. So when she steps into public toilets that are dirty, she’d immediately request to put her pants diapers on.

Thank God for XXL.

For the first two kids: Wearing pants diapers the moment they were active and toilet training when they were ready

For the first two kids: Wearing pants diapers the moment they were active and toilet training when they were ready

With Nat, we have a completely different story. The moment he started flipping away from me and crawling off like Speedy Gonzales while he was being diapered as a baby, I switched him to Drypers Drypantz. In fact, the M size Drypers Drypantz (for toddlers weighing 7kg to 12kg) was like a godsend then for a tired mother (that’s me) who had to constantly deal with an active child (that’s Nat) who incidentally also loved exploring the pee that came out from his private part (true story).

If you have met my third child, you would have seen for yourself how frisky he is, how agile he can be and how much energy he has. If you’re also as unfit as I am, you’d probably lose to this little human in a game of tag. So his Drypantz being a pants diaper can be put on in a matter of seconds. With Drypers Drypantz, anyone can get him diapered immediately, hassle-free.

Oh, how much convenience and comfort this invention has benefitted both of us! God bless the person who thought of the idea of pulling a diaper up and tearing it at the sides when we’re done. With someone as active as Nat, I need him in his Drypers Drypantz every day for an ease of mind.

The new improved Drypers Drypantz is giving me even more relief and a larger, (much larger) piece of mind. This is because I am now assured that even if he has to run around in his Drypers Drypantz every waking minute (he uses Drypers Wee Wee Dry when he sleeps, which is the brand I totally swear by to keep the kids’ pee in through the night, but I digress), the little boy gets ultimate comfort wearing those pants diapers.

I also especially love how Drypers Drypantz has this Comfort Fit™ waistband that gives my boy maximum softness and comfort and leaves him with absolutely ZERO pressure marks and redness.

And as for my little boy, he especially loves how he can put on his Drypers Drypantz on his own, just by looking at the little cute bird which would tell him which side’s front and which was back when he was wearing the XL. And now the busy bees tell him the same for the XXL. So clever, Drypers.

Drypantz front and backYes, at two years of age he now puts on his pants diapers himself. Now, for a step-by-step visual tutorial by Nat Kao. Check out how he so easily extends the Comfort Fit™ waistband with his hands, slides his legs in,  tugs it up and how his Drypantz fits snugly on him.

Slide legs in and start pullingDrypantz up

Slide legs in and start pulling Drypantz up

Pull, pull, pull!

Pull, pull, pull!

The wonders of the ComfortFit Waistband: No matter how he tugs and pulls, it's stays intact without tearing and remains soft to the touch

The wonders of the Comfort Fit™ Waistband: No matter how he tugs and pulls, it’s stays intact without tearing and remains soft to the touch

Wa la! How easy is that! Now the back view - snug and fitting

Wa la! How easy is that! Now the back view – snug and fitting

And the front view, all nicely pulled up

And the front view, all nicely pulled up

Strike a model pose!

Strike a model pose!

Just when you think things cannot get any cuter, Drypers now has two adorable mascots to help show us what exactly Comfort Fit™ is.  Meet Airy, the colourful little pinwheel that embodies breathability and better air circulation, and Softie, the fluffy little blue cloud that embodies softness and comfort.

Meet Airy...

Meet Airy…

... and Softie

… and Softie

Drypers_DPZ_Breathe-Easy_Media-Images_Campaign-Mnemonic

…Who is here to help our little ones breathe easy!

Drypers surely innovate on the visuals too. How cute can these diapers and diaper mascots get?

Drypers has come a long way since the days of their noisy scotch-tape-like fastening for its Wee Wee Dry range and its synthetically textured Drypantz that felt like plastic to the touch. Over the years, I’ve seen Drypers innovate and improve from packaging to product quality, and that to me is testament of how a trusted brand pays attention to the needs of both parent and child. Drypers Drypantz is my preferred pants diaper choice because of its soft and breathable waistband that ensures greater softness and air circulation for my littlest one who needs such comfort to be bouncing up and down.

***

This post is brought to you by Drypers. We’re regular users of Drypers Drypantz and Wee Wee Dry and we’re recommending this because we really like what we’re using and have not been disappointed once by the premium quality we’ve experienced. I like that I’m getting quality which is affordable and have been diapering the kids with this trusted brand since 2012. Nat gets no pressure marks and redness at all, but individuals would certainly differ.

***

Breathe Easy with Drypers Drypantz today!

  • Log on to www.facebook.com.sg/DrypersSingapore to request for FREE samples, or look out for it in-stores! For the month of August, Drypers will be giving away free 4 pcs of Drypers Drypantz with purchase of any pack of Drypers Drypantz (applicable to banded packs only).
  • Now you can also log on to Facebook and play the Drypers “Breathe Easy Breeze” FB game. Control Airy using your mouse to help Softie turn plain diapers into Drypers Drypantz diapers! Convert 12 diapers to Drypers Drypantz in the fastest amount of time and stand to win attractive prizes including $100 cash vouchers and tickets (worth $88 each) to Lunchbox Theatrical Production’s “Bubble Magic” show in September. Details on Drypers’ FB page here.

 

Disclosure: This post is part of a series of sponsored conversations on behalf of Drypers Singapore. All opinions here are my own. Any urine or loose stool leakage is purely coincidental. 

Read my other Drypers Reviews here and here.

Becks Kao Getting all sentimental now Milestones and growing up

Four.

July 29, 2014

As a mom of three, there are three days a year I have legit reasons to cry – on my first child’s birthday, on my second child’s birthday, and on my third child’s birthday.

I get extremely sentimental every year when I place one candle more than the number of candles the previous year on a birthday cake for each kid. I get flashbacks of my baby cradled in my arms the first time we met at the delivery suite and all those chubby cheeks and thunder thighs infant days. I remember my little one crawling, then cruising, and then wobbling towards the proud mom that I was in those tiring but fun toddler years. I recall those beautiful memories of raspberry kisses and wild tickling on the bed, and how much laughter we have had, with this child in our lives – my life.

And when it’s time to adjust quickly back to reality and back to lighting the candles for the birthday cake, there standing before me is that baby, all ready to blow them out, all smiles, all grown up.

Which is why I am usually a huge emotional wreck every single birthday.

How did it all happen, from this:

Becks_infant

and this,

Becks_toddler (2)

and this,

Becks_toddler (1)

to this?

Becks is 4_1

Becks is 4_2

Becks is 4_3

My baby girl turns 4 today.

And I’m tearing quite a bit writing this:

Becky, I know you can’t wait to be 16, or 16 hundred years old, like you always say you want to be. FOUR is a number big enough for you – and me – today, so let’s just stay at four for a year more.

Happy birthday, my love.

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

Gutsy enough for the Skyline Luge, and once is never enough!

July 23, 2014

There are a lot of things in Sentosa that we’ve not yet explored and tried. I don’t know why but I have this mental obstruction in my own head about my kids not being old enough, tall enough, brave enough.

Universal Studios? The kids are not going to be tall enough for the rides, old enough to remember the experience and brave enough to go on roller coasters.

Interact with dolphins? No matter how much they tell me they love animals, I bet they would chicken out the moment we’re in the pool.

The Sentosa Luge? Are you kidding? I bet everyone’s gonna start wailing the moment we head upwards on the cable-chair ride and koala hug me when we whizz downhill with the go-cart-like tub.

For that reason which exists in their mother’s head, Sentosa is only known as the pirate-ship place’ (Port of Lost Wonder), the beach, and the ‘nice hotel with sand in pool’ (we did a staycation at Festive and checked out the Hard Rock pool). For that reason also, every time we walk past this, we only go, Waaaa! So scary!

Siloso Beach - Overview of buildings and walkway

Photo credit: Sentosa Skyline Luge

Leisure and Business Brochure

Photo credit: Sentosa Skyline Luge

But this all changed one particular day during the June holidays. I got an invitation from the folks at Sentosa inviting our family to experience the new façade and streamlined facilities over at the Skyline Luge. I was told that they’ve done their most extensive upgrade ever to further enhance the Skyline Luge experience – which comprises a 320-metre chairlift via the Skyride and a 3-wheeled gravity ride via the Luge.

As usual, I automatically went, Nah, my kids are not old enough, tall enough, brave enough. 

But I soon realised that they were indeed old enough and tall enough. Children need to be over 85cm tall and accompanied by an adult, otherwise 135 cm tall to ride alone for the Skyride; and riders need to be at least 110cm tall to ride on their own, otherwise they need to ride tandem with an adult. Which means of the three of my mental ‘not…enough’s, only ‘not brave enough’ has yet to be tested.

Well, for the record, that evening, the Kao Kids – all three of them – were brave enough for the Skyride and the Luge! In fact, true to its tagline ‘Once is Never Enough’, they couldn’t stop!

Sentosa Skyline Luge_3

The Skyline Luge is between Imbiah Lookout and Siloso Beach, and has just undergone a façade lift

Sentosa Skyline Luge_1

And so they’re ready to ride! Ben is looking small in an adult’s body – hurhurhur!

Sentosa Skyline Luge_2

My three BRAVE kids!

We went up the chairlift FIVE TIMES, and taking turns to tandem each one of them down the Luge FIVE TIMES. And even after the fifth, they were screaming, “Moar, moar, moar!” No one wailed, no one koala hugged me, no one said “I’m too scared. I’ll pass.”

These pictures will tell the rest of the story:

Sentosa Skyline Luge_4

These were taken on the Skyride

Sentosa Skyline Luge_5

The view from above

Sentosa Skyline Luge_6

Pictures courtesy of Skyline Luge’s camera

Sentosa Skyline Luge_8

As you can see, we’re ready to ride, even if it meant that the helmet was too huge for someone!

Sentosa Skyline Luge_7

We went ‘weee, weee, weee!’ down and it was fun, fun, fun!

Sentosa Skyline Luge_9

Thumbs up: we’re tall enough, old enough, brave enough, and once is NEVER enough!

More details:

With 9.24 million riders and counting, the Skyline Luge has embarked on its most extensive upgrade to further enhance its attraction offerings to both tourists and locals alike. Some of the facilities include an upgraded jungle track, more photo counters, handicap-friendly layout and more ticketing counters.

The Skyline Luge is between Imbiah Lookout and Siloso Beach. The nearest car park is the Beach Carpark.

Opening hours: 10 am to 9.30 pm daily

Ticketing charges are as follows: (tickets are only valid on the date of purchase)

1) Individual deals: 1 Luge & 1 Skyride SGD15/pax, 3 Luge & 3 Skyrides SGD23/pax, 5 Luge & 5 Skyrides SGD33/rax

2) Family deals: 4 rides Family Pass* SGD39, 8 rides SGD 59, 10 rides SGD69. Child-doubling at SGD3 per ride.

*A family pass is for 2 adults and maximum 3 children. The rides can also be shared among the members.

3) Skyride only: 1-way SGD10/pax, 2-way SGD15/pax, Unlimited SGD17/pax

***

Ok, I’ll take your questions now…

Scary or not?

The first time up the chairlift and the first time down the Luge was kind of. Strongly advise those with vertigo or motion sickness to stay clear of it. Otherwise, if it’s just a little fear of heights that’s holding you back, I’ll say, Don’t be afraid! It’s really an exhilarating feeling and a thrilling experience through and through.

Can you control how fast you go on the Luge? Can I go really slow?

The Luge has got a totally idiot-proof brake and steer system and is definitely something you can control. But I don’t think you want to go too slow down slope. *yawn*

How long, distance-wise, is the Luge trail?

You can choose to take the 688-metre Dragon trail or the 628-metre Jungle trail. How long, you ask? Not long enough, in my opinion!

The closing hour is 9.30pm! At night can see? Won’t langgar?

When we were there, we were done close to 8pm. It was dark. BUT the darkness and the flashing lights made for a totally new experience! Won’t langgar for sure – cos the trails are all well-lit! We were so delighted to have been able to witness the sunset while on the Skyride too that evening.

So brightly lit, you won't langgar!

RGB LED Lights: So brightly lit, you won’t langgar, confirmed!

Were your children safely tucked in the chairlift? It feels and looks so bare.

True that. There are no buckles and lots of pockets of spaces for a leg or hand to slip in. Make sure you bring a kid that will listen to instructions and follow them! The folks managing the queues at the Skyride will help you seat the younger ones while you get on (because the Skyride chairlifts actually don’t stop moving) and they will make sure you’re seated before a huge latch securely fastens everyone. Also, it’s a bad idea to wear slippers. My helper did and she was constantly fearing that they may drop. Good thing I made the kids wear shoes!

If you have to be securely fastened on the Skyride and then maneuver the Luge manually, how to take selfies or wefies?

Big phones may drop off if they can’t be tucked tight in pockets, so be warned. Mine almost fell a few times because I tried to be hero – I stretched my hand out to take pictures of the kids but also wanted to hold their hands at the same time. Best thing to do: sling a compact camera. If not, they have cameras installed everywhere with signs telling you to ‘Look Ahead and Smile’. You can always purchase them at the counters after you’re done with your rides.

How long is the Skyride? What if it stalls mid air?

It takes about 10 minutes to reach the top. But it’s also dependent on how crowded and how long you have to queue. If you want priority to skip queues, get their membership packages.

The Skyline Luge has won many awards, including the “Travellers’ Choice Award” by Trip Advisor in 2013. It has had zero accidents thus far and no incidents of stalling. Our chairlift did stop for a few seconds those five times we were up – and I guess that might have been to regulate the flow of chairlifts moving. We just took those few seconds as our opportunity to take in the scenic view!

Any problems with the kids riding tandem with you?

Absolutely none. They loved it. The only problem we had was that nobody wanted to double with the helper. We have 3 kids and they wanted to all go tandem with Mom or Dad instead!

Wow, sounds like fun! Any other tips?

Have a light snack before you go, cos’ if you buy, say 5 rides, it’s gonna take a while including the queuing and all. Evening is the best time to go cos’ it’s cool and you can admire the sunset view on the Skyride. AND… bring your own helmets if you have them! Those provided were soaked with perspiration, not to mention quite smelly! Plus, there was none fitting for a small head like Nat’s. If we had known, we would have brought our bike helmets. If you don’t have one, bring a shower cap so your hair stays dry and smelling nice!

***

And now, for the GIVEAWAY!

The kind folks at Sentosa are giving away 3 x Family Passes (for 4 rides)* to 3 readers of this blog!

*A family pass is for 2 adults and maximum 3 children. The pass up for grabs is for a family to go for four Skyrides and four Luge rides.* 

Simply log in with your email or FB using the Rafflecopter app to stand a chance to win in the random draw!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway ends 29 July 2014 (12 am).

Disclosure: I didn’t get paid to write this post but we had complimentary tickets to experience the Skyline Luge. All opinions are mine and I will not be held responsible for suggestions and tips I’ve given in my Q&A. Suggestions, mine. Guts, yours.

All this blog's PR Stuff Food, glorious food! Happy days Motherkao loves... Reviews

So fine, yet so casual [Review of E’spuma Lab]

July 22, 2014

The husband and I are huge fans of Top Chef and Masterchef. We watch the programmes to get inspiration for our cooking, and eating, of course.

Because we catch the various seasons of these programmes quite regularly, food looking like this…

Wild duck and wild apples

Photo source

And chefs using this odd-looking cannister to pump out foam like this…

iSi Whipper

Photo source

…are not sights uncommon to us. Just that we’ve never had the opportunity to try food cooked this way, or have them plated like such and put on our tables.

Then our chance came one Saturday ago.

We were invited by E’spuma Lab, a new casual diner that aims to bring innovative culinary techniques like espuma and sous vide out of Michelin-star restaurants and into the casual dining scene in Singapore at wallet-friendly prices. I was informed that all the dishes for the tasting session would be foamed, espuma-style and that every item on the menu would be something that would fill me up and satisfy children and adults alike. I have seen chefs on TV making sauces and desserts using the steel-like cannister (which is called the espuma siphon, I later found out) and was genuinely curious how anything prepared by this technique would taste like.

Most of all, I wanted to see how cooking techniques so atas would finally be revealed and prepared to be tasted by commoners like me and my family.

For the uninitiated, espuma is Spanish for foam or froth, and is a culinary technique in which an espuma siphon is used to infuse air into the food, creating an airily light texture. This technique adds a very interesting dimension to natural ingredients, especially those that have been mashed, pureed or juiced.

Sous vide is a culinary technique in which food is cooked in a vacuum at a constant temperature, using a thermal circulator. This technique ensures perfectly cooked eggs and evenly cooked meat.

So this, ladies and gents, this was the food plated and prepared for us that evening. But atas no more, I tell you, because E’spuma Lab’s sole mission is to make haute cuisine totally accessible and affordable to people like you – and me.

Why I am not a food blogger: The first dish that came was this -Sautéed Mushrooms with Espuma Potato Foam (SGD6.80) - and I started feeding hungry kids. Photo credit: E'spuma Lab

Why I am not a food blogger: The first dish that came was this -Sautéed Mushrooms with Espuma Potato Foam (SGD6.80) – and I started feeding hungry kids.
Photo credit: E’spuma Lab

And this was the 2nd - Curry Chicken with E'spuma Potato Foam (SGD6.80) - and I started feeding myself. Photo credit: E'spuma Lab

And this was the 2nd dish to arrive – Curry Chicken with E’spuma Potato Foam (SGD6.80) – and I started feeding myself.
Photo credit: E’spuma Lab

Then the Sous Vide Eggs with Smoked Salmon and Fried Salmon Skin (SGD3.80) came and the son, who loves eggs, devoured the whole thing. Photo credit: E'spuma Lab

Then the Sous Vide Eggs with Smoked Salmon and Fried Salmon Skin (SGD3.80) came and the son, who loves eggs, devoured the whole thing.
Photo credit: E’spuma Lab

Spaghetti with Swedish meatballs and E'spuma Caramelised Onion Sauce

Then more mains came, and at this point, I was yelling, ‘Stop! I need photos first!’ Spaghetti with Swedish meatballs and E’spuma Caramelised Onion Sauce (SGD6.80)

Spaghetti with Chicken Cutlet and E'spuma Bacon Sauce (SGD6.80)

Spaghetti with Chicken Cutlet and E’spuma Bacon Sauce (SGD6.80)

Fragrant Rice with Pan Seared Sous Vide Chicken Breast and E'spuma Pesto Sauce

Fragrant Rice with Pan Seared Sous Vide Chicken Breast and E’spuma Pesto Sauce

Fragrant Rice with Cajun Chicken Leg and E'spuma Curry Sauce

Fragrant Rice with Cajun Chicken Leg and E’spuma Curry Sauce

Oh, happiness!

I hear there’s also espuma-ed mushroom soup, espuma battered fish and chips and new items on the menu every time Chef gets inspiration! Happy times, people, these are happy times.

And believe me, that evening I was really happy. Really, really happy. I loved everything I tasted, and I am not saying this just because I got a free meal. I would gladly pay every cent (and maybe more) for whatever I ate (and they were really priced reasonably – just look at each portion and respective price!) I especially loved, loved, loved the curry chicken dish; it was so light and satisfying. There was absolutely no flavour overdose (also known as jelat, in localspeak) because the curry foam was so airily delightful. Every sauce that came espuma-ed was a hit with the kids, Fatherkao and me.

No cloying texture, no starchy heaviness. Only pure foam heaven.

And just so you know, for our desserts we had durian fritters – which were so not-oily that you could pop a whole bunch in your mouth and have a good loud durian burp at the end of it.

E'spuma Batter D24 Durian Fritters (SGD3.80)

E’spuma Batter D24 Durian Fritters (SGD3.80)

As we did.

You can pop these fritters in and not feel that they are oily or cloyingly sweet at all!

You can pop these fritters in and not feel that they are oily or cloyingly sweet at all!

Now I can finally tell myself that I’ve come close to what the judges were tasting in Top Chef and Masterchef. Take that, Padma Lakshmi. By the way, just so you know, Chef Teo Yeow Siang, the brain behind E’spuma’s innovative dishes, has 13 years of experience and has won many international awards; so technically he’s better than any Top Chef alum any time. I’m wishing that E’spuma Lab would expand their operations soon and be found in a mall near me. Good on the working crowd for now, since it’s the only one and only at Pomo Mall (formerly Paradiz Centre at Selegie Road) but if I’m there and need a meal, I wouldn’t even need to think once.

We checked out the humble kitchen with sophisticated equipment (the espuma siphons and sous vide cooker) and were touched that this is a place with heart. No trade secrets, no airs. Just good food at really low prices for all.

We checked out the humble kitchen with sophisticated equipment (the espuma siphons and sous vide cooker) and were touched that this is a place with heart. No trade secrets, no airs. Just good food at really low prices for all.

More details:

E’spuma Lab is at 1 Selegie Road, Pomo Mall, #01-20/21 Singapore 1883306.

Opening hours: Monday – Saturday 11am to 9pm

Contact number: 8222 1113 (Why need contact number huh, you ask. Because if you are near, you can cater! Durian fritters to go!)

… … … …

And just so you get to try what I did, I’m giving away my $10 voucher (yes, the one which the folks gave me in my press kit) to you so you can go check out E’spuma Lab! (FYI, their set meals cost only $8.80!)

If you want to win it, simply LIKE E’spuma’s Facebook Page and leave a comment on this blog post telling me what you might like to try!

Giveaway ends 30 July 2014. I’ll mail the voucher to the winner after the random draw!

Winner announcement: CONGRATS to Samantha! The list randomiser picked you and you’ll be eating at E’spuma Lab soon!

Espuma winner

Disclosure: My family and I were invited by E’spuma Lab for a food tasting session. No monetary compensation was received for this post and all opinions here are my own, with input from the big and little tasters. 

UPDATE AS OF 22 OCT 2015: I was told that they’ve since ceased operations at POMO. Which makes me very sad. So very, very sad.

Food, glorious food! Motherkao loves...

For the love of Korean food (I): simple homecooked

July 18, 2014

I’ve been subjecting the family to a lot of Korean food these days and it’s all thanks to watching too much kshows, I tell you. I don’t know how many times I ran to the kitchen in the middle of the night to cook myself a pot of ramyeon while watching Boys Over Flower, how many times I craved for beef japchae watching City Hunter and how many times I wanted to reach for the phone and order me some chicken (and beer) while watching You From Another Star (chimek, remember?). And every time the folks over at Running Man had food games, I found myself wanting to eat tteokbokkikimchi and jjambbong.

Lately, I make the kids and the husband eat a lot of pork cooked in this particular sauce / marinade from Bibigo (that’s supposed to give a BBQ-à la-bulgogi flavour to the meat) :

I love both the Original and the one with pineapple

I love both the original and the one with pineapple

For the kids, I make it with the sauce without the heat. It’s a really easy one pot meal and I modify it to suit the children’s palate. I just fry sliced onions, shallots, and garlic with shabu shabu pork that’s marinated with the sauce, add some cornstarch and an egg to make a thicker gravy and pour everything on a bowl of hot rice.

The kids love this. For myself, I add the heat with the red pepper version and kimchi on the side, and we all have a hearty rice meal like that. When we do eventually get sick of pork, I figured I’ll be doing the same with chicken and beef.

Bibigo's 'Hot & Spicy' Korean BBQ Sauce

Bibigo’s ‘Hot & Spicy’ Korean BBQ Sauce

When in need of soup, the fastest thing I’ve done is to boil a pot of water with a huge tablespoon of bean paste and throw in some ready-made, frozen vegetarian Korean dumplings.

A hearty meal with just bulgogi pork with rice and soup

A hearty meal with just bulgogi pork with rice and soup

Now, that’s so much faster than what we usually do for Chinese cooking. Every time we want to have soup, we have to start boiling pork or chicken bones with red dates, huaishan, beiqi and goujizi by 3pm so we can get soup that tastes like soup (and not water) by 7.

It’s not a big hit with the kids as compared to my Chinese soup but hey, if they need some liquid to go with their rice, we can have it like that too.

I recently also made the popular ikan bilis Korean side dish which was a big hit and something everyone loved. I referred to The Domestic Goddess Wannabe‘s instructions here, but modified them by airfrying my ikan bilis in my Philips Airfryer first and threw everything in after heating up the sauce. I used roasted sesame also, instead of toasting sesame seeds in a dry pan as she suggested:

Two versions of myulchi - one with heat, the other with honey soy, plus a huge japchae side dish to eat for dinner (and for tomorrow's lunch!)

Two versions of myulchi – one with heat, the other with honey soy, plus a huge japchae side dish to eat for dinner (and for tomorrow’s lunch!)

I made two versions – one spicy and the other with honey soy. They were super addictive!

And for me, no dinner experience is complete without a bit of japchae. This is the dish I get to vary however I want, because I am usually the only one eating (and finishing) it. Here’s a step-by-step guide which I referred to to make my japchae, again adapted from The Domestic Goddess Wannabe.

I usually boil the sweet potato vermicelli instead of soaking it. I’ve added beef on one occasion, and pork on another with garlic, shallots, onions and whatever that I could find in the fridge – carrots, radish, cabbage, mushrooms. The tip is to fry the hardest veg to the softest, and the meat last, and then the noodles with the seasoning however you like it.

I’m hoping to share more about what I do at home making Korean food, because right now, I can’t get enough of it! Do you love Korean food too? Share your links with me or reveal where’s good to eat Korean and what’s good to have in Singapore!

 

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

Science, and Science Centre fun! [The Second Part]

July 15, 2014

Imagine stepping into a 3000 square metre indoor playground with interactive zones inviting you to play, play, play – and not stop. And while you play, play, and play, you’re actually learning about science in fun and engaging ways.

Yep, that’s KidsSTOP for you.

KidsSTOP_Entrance

I think if there was such an edutainment centre when I was a kid, I might have been more curious and wanting to explore more as a child. I certainly hope that being there at KidsSTOP would do that for my kids – getting them all curious and making little explorers out of them.

KidsSTOP has FOUR interactive zones designed to engage young children’s imagination and creativity, while encouraging hands-on learning. The zones are IMAGINE, DISCOVER, EXPERIENCE AND DREAM.

Within the IMAGINE Zone, there’s the Built Environment, a recreation of a building site, Dino Pit, a detailed replica of an excavation site, dino “bones” included, and Supermarket, where the littles ones get to grocery shop and play cashiers. This zone gives shape and form to the most creative ideas in a variety of fun settings.

The DISCOVER Zone feature exhibits that answer all the big questions relating to things like nature, flight and space, the solar system and the human body.

The EXPERIENCE Zone, tucked behind the Omni Theatre is the place to get close to nature (Critters, Virtual Pond), as well as immersing oneself in behind-the-scenes production like a budding filmmaker (Kiddie Theatre).

And lastly, the DREAM Zone allows children to explore the depths of their imagination, and opens up the world of infinite possibilities – and that we’re talking about a two-storey Big Dream Climber that leads to a secret music room, a Giant J slide that lets anyone free fall and a Small World that brings LEGO bricks larger than life.

Park Map of KidsSTOP screen-capped from http://www.kidsstop.edu.sg/park-map

Park Map of KidsSTOP screen-capped from http://www.kidsstop.edu.sg/park-map

While I like everything organised and categorised systematically for clarity and purposeful learning, at KidsSTOP, I forced myself to tell the kids to explore whatever they want, however they please and whichever zones they were inclined to (except the sand, for there was no spare change – of clothes, that is). Whilst I would love that they take time to go visit one exhibit systematically after another, read whatever information was presented to them while at that and internalise the concepts to build on existing knowledge, I know full well that my kids are only 5, 4 and 2 which means I had better keep my ‘teacher tendencies’ under control.

They are here to play, was what I constantly reminded myself. Let the learning happen organically.

So no surprises at all who hung around where and lingered around what.

With my littlest, who loves balls, he was found transfixed and completely fascinated at Built Environment.

Nat at Built Environment, engrossed in getting all the balls into the tube

Nat at Built Environment, engrossed in getting all the balls into the tube

The little girl was found – make a guess – talking to herself and cashiering at the Supermarket like a pro.

Cashiering like a pro

Cashiering like a pro

Of course, once in a while, inspiration struck and she decided she wanted to fly to the moon.

Fly me to the moon

Fly me to the moon

Otherwise, she was often found checking the seasonal prices of red peppers and tomatoes again and again.

Scanning tomatoes

Scanning tomatoes

And my five-year-old? He couldn’t be contained within exhibits. There was a world up there to explore.

The Big Dream Climber: Ben spoke of a magic place after you've reached the top and there are instruments to make music there!

The Big Dream Climber: Ben spoke of a magic place after you’ve reached the top and there were instruments to make music there!

The kids also took turns to check out the Human Body exhibit, and it appears that Ben might have a keener inclination to be a surgeon in future. He was so focused taking out organs and putting them back, then suturing imaginatively, like a pro.

Do not disturb: Surgeon at Work

Do not disturb: Surgeon at Work

What about me? Did I just sit around and watch the kids or try to catch a nap while the kids play? Well, I did want to do that. But something was beckoning me.  This thing called the Giant J. I challenged it at 5 metres. Any higher I might pass out hanging on the bar up there.

Mama at Giant J

Mama at Giant J. Photos of me on the slide were made possible thanks to Andy from Sengkang Babies

And it was incredibly, exhilaratingly FUN!

And I'm free... free-falling!

And I’m free… free-falling!

Another place where the Kao kids spent a really long time at was here:

In a room called 'Critters'

In a room called ‘Critters’

Because how much do my children love animals? SO MUCH.

And here as well:

Learning volume through shapes

Learning volume through shapes

This was where I watched with fascination and wondered how long these kids (including Sengkang Babies‘ Boon Xin) can pour and pour and pour and pour those green beans.

Apparently, for very, very long. So much so that they didn’t want to leave.

Until I had to distract them with other things in the room, like this – which then got the boys interested..

There's something to learn from this - just that I don't know what!

There’s something to learn from this – just that I don’t know what!

And this, which got Becks excited for a while.

At Kiddie Theatre, kids can build LEGO at designated corners which would then be captured like an animated film!

At Kiddie Theatre, kids can build LEGO at designated corners which would then be captured like an animated film!

And then it was back to, Can we go climb the Big Dream Climber? Can we go play at the Supermarket? Can we go pour the beans? all over again.

I tell you, this place is where the kids CANNOT STOP.

KidsSTOP equals cannot stop playing. Cannot stop asking Mama if they can go here and there and back to here and then again there. And then repeat ten times.

You can imagine how difficult it was to get all three kids out of there.

KidsSTOP: Where the play never stops

KidsSTOP: Where the play never stops

And it’s no wonder that they have to operate by stipulated sessions at KidsSTOP. On weekdays, the 1st session starts at 12pm and ends at 3pm (last admission 2.15pm), while the 2nd session starts at 4pm and ends at 7pm (last admission 6.15pm). On weekends, the 1st session is from 10am to 2pm (last admission 1.15pm), and the 2nd sessions starts at 3pm and ends at 7pm (last admission 6.15pm). Your admission ticket only allows you to go for ONE SESSION.

Clearly, at KidsSTOP, no hogging is allowed, which is brilliant because all kids get a chance to play and the crowd is kept at a manageable capacity.

We’ve had ourselves a truly enriching and enjoyable time at KidsSTOP, and the kids have been begging to return to play some more. When we left, we saw a birthday party group arriving, and found out that KidsSTOP also has birthday packages! It will be really fun to dream up a party here soon enough, so that, plus the Giant J at 6 metres are reasons for me to plan our return. The kids also made me promise that the next time we go, I’ll allow them to play at the Dino Pit and will not forget to bring a change of clothes for them!

More details:

Disclosure: We were invited to KidsSTOP as part of a Blogger’s Invite. No monetary compensation was received for this post, and all opinions here are our own.

Read the First Part of our fun here.

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

Science, and Science Centre fun! [The First Part]

July 15, 2014

Science as a subject was something I couldn’t exactly grasp. Well, maybe because logic is something alien to me in the first place. And don’t even get me started on how to explain scientific concepts to my children.

I don’t, that’s why my finger is always pointing to their father whenever Ben or Becks asks me the big ‘whys’.

Having said that, I believe in purposeful and experiential play for the kids so that when the day comes when they have to learn a scientific concept, their sensory and playful experiences can quickly help them connect, leading to the Eureka moment.

So when the Singapore Science Centre invited us to experience the Singapore Science Festival 2014 last Saturday, we were all ready to get for ourselves as many experiences and interactions relating to the wonderful world of science as possible.

FIRST STOP: Science Ahoy!

Science Ahoy! is kinda like your geek funfair. You enter it (Annexe Hall 1) taking on the persona of a sailor, and for SGD5 get a survival manual which would help you stay alive in the event of a  shipwreck.

Ahoy! mateys, let's be learning us some science!

Ahoy! mateys, let’s be learning us some science!

You get to learn through engaging activities in the form of stations, and at each station, explore a specific concept that would increase your chances of survival, like using the sun to tell time, boiling psyllium seed husks to make a marmalade substitute, learning the link between buoyant forces, water tension and gravity to move a boat, using area and perimeter to encrypt messages, and understanding why sometimes we can feel the earth moving.

Ben and Becks had a go in making the cross section of the earth. They were given a plastic bowl, some crushed papers, plasticine, a marble and pieces of blue and green felt. With that, those little hands were guided to make the inner and outer core of the earth, its mantle and crust. They learned from this activity that the thickness, state of matter, temperature and materials that make up the layers of our Earth are different! What a clever way to teach these little curious minds!

Science Ahoy!_Cross Section of the Earth

Busy little hands, focused in making a model of our Earth

Cross-section model completed!

Cross-section model completed!

At another station, Ben and Becks were given a challenge with plasticine. They were asked why despite being the same weight, one plasticine floated around in the water steadily and the other sank.

Quiz time: Mr Sailor asks the Kao kids THE question...

Quiz time: Mr Sailor asks the Kao kids THE question…

...How can we make plasticine float?

…How can we make plasticine float?

When we learned that the secret was in its surface area, all of us (including me) got busy moulding our ball of plasticine to make it buoyant. What fun to experience the concept of buoyancy this way!

Little hands getting busy again

Little hands getting busy again

Buoyant at last: It's in moulding the shape with a big enough surface area to keep out the water!

Buoyant at last: It’s in moulding the shape with a big enough surface area to keep out the water!

At yet another station, we were told that the rats have infested the kitchen and the oranges and sugar sacks were gone. With some psyllium seed husks, water and food colouring, the kids concocted jello-like marmalade, and had lots of fun feeling its texture. Who says we can only make jam with sugar and fruit?

Gooey Marmalade

Gooey Marmalade

Touching and feeling what gooey marmalade is like!

Touching and feeling what gooey marmalade is like!

Every kid loves slime. Every. This was one of the most crowded stations that morning.

The kids got excited with jello!

All the kids got excited with jello!

I loved it that despite this being a learning festival for primary school children, the people from the Science Centre and A* STAR, the co-organisers of the festival, were all together so encouraging and patient in getting my young ones to try the activities, as well as explaining to them the concepts in very simple, layman terms. Although my kids weren’t keen enough to go seek out the answers for the other two more challenging activities – the math cryptography and the sun-dial making – I was already very pleased that the Kao kids had acquired for themselves invaluable experiences that would be stored for later use.

  • Science Ahoy! is on daily from 9.30am to 6pm, from 11 to 18 July. The recommended time for this is 90 minutes and the $5 fee does not include admission into Science Centre. Accompanying adults go free though.

SECOND STOP: Human Body Experience (HBX)

Yes, to enter the exhibition, you get swallowed first

The Human Body Experience: yes, to enter the exhibition, you get swallowed first

We’ve seen ads publicising this experience, and the kids were actually very frightened by the thought of being “swallowed alive” by such a huge human mouth. We’ve been told in advance not to come in high heels and to be prepared for a fully immersive experience in terms of sense, sight and sound, and to be ready to crawl  and move around a lot.

The journey began with us being “swallowed” by the mouth and sliding down the oesophagus – taking us inside the human anatomy through organs and muscles and the nervous system. We became explorers inside the five main systems of the human body: the circulatory, digestive, immune, nervous and respiratory systems.

It was very intriguing indeed. How wonderfully made we are, and how much detail goes into creating our bodies! I don’t know about you, but it’s in times like this I wonder, how can anyone not believe that there’s a God who made us? There wasn’t any science I could teach my kids and many things were too complex for my preschoolers to understand. I couldn’t answer Ben when he kept asking me, “What’s this? Where’s this? What is this supposed to do?”. I had no simple and clear explanation for my preschoolers when they asked me why there is electricity zapping through the brain. Or how our bodies fight germs. Or why our bones are strong enough to hold up our organs and all. Ben also asked why our intestines are so long and yet can fit snugly in our bodies.

Most of the time, with those questions, I actually answered, I don’t know. God made it so.

But one thing I could tell them for certain that day was: Look at how good God is in making you!

Many things to see, learn and explore! Unfortunately, it was pretty dark and I had to mind the kids, so I gave up on pictures.

Many things to see, learn and explore! Unfortunately, it was pretty dark and I had to mind the kids, so I gave up on pictures.

Particularly unforgettable: being suddenly sprayed with mist as we walked through the stomach (to simulate bile) and having to wobble to keep our balance and being all squashed at the interior of the intenstine. The squeezing and squishing took a toll on the little girl towards the end of the journey that by the time we were reaching the anus, she was all shook up and crying. So for the faint-hearted, I’ll have to say, HBX may not be suitable for you.

The boys loved it though (yes, Nat enjoyed the experience!) and so did I, and we wished we could experience again, the next time more slowly and calmly. We were rather frantic given it’s our first time!

  • The Human Body Experience is at Hall B in Singapore Science Centre. Admission rates to HBX and Science Centre is SGD20 for adults and SGD15 for children aged 3 to 12 years old.

THIRD STOP: KidsSTOP

If you haven’t already heard, the first of its kind edutainment centre to engage children from preschool to lower primary levels in science is now here. Occupying over 3000 square metres, science can be explored here, playground style. This is like the kid’s version of the Singapore Science Centre (which would probably only start to make sense when you are in Primary 3) and is built especially for children 18 months to 8 years.

KidsSTOP_Entrance

This is one place that makes me wish I was a kid again

My kids loved KidsSTOP. I loved KidsSTOP. We had so much fun and it was a place where my kids didn’t want the fun to stop.

Find out how much fun we’ve had for ourselves at KidsSTOP in the Second Part to this post.

Details on admission charges to KidsSTOP can be found here.

Disclosure: We were invited to the Singapore Science Centre for a Blogger Preview. All opinions here are mine. The fun we had was also ours. The risk we took was also our own. We survived being swallowed and subsequently “passed out” to bring you this story.

I can't categorise such entries

Bad thumb jokes

July 11, 2014

At the A & E eight hours after I slammed the car door on my own thumb

Porter (who’s assigned to escort me for the x-ray): Alamak, so serious ah, you… How you fall?

Me: I didn’t fall.

Porter: THEN WHAT HAPPENED?!?!

Me: I close car door didn’t see my thumb still there.

-silence-

At the A & E doctor’s room

Doctor: So, what happened to you?

Me: Car door slammed on my thumb.

Doctor: Door hinge or far end of door?

Me: Far end.

Doctor: Hard slam like a smash, or…?

Me: Not a hard slam. I closed it quite gently on myself.

Doctor: Looks very bad still.

silence-

At the doctor’s room after the x-ray was done

Doctor: There’s a chip fracture, from what I see…

Me: WHAT??!!??

Doctor: Yes, the injury is quite bad. How did the door slam on you?

Me: I slow. I slam self.

Husband: (bursting out in hearty laughter) Yes, Doctor. No one did anything. She closed the door on her finger on her own.

Me: Thanks for explaining in so many words. I can’t believe that either.

 

At a birthday party about 18 hours after the accident

Friend 1: Hey! I saw on Facebook! What happened to your thumb?

Me: Huh, slow lor, what to do?

Friend 1: Ouch, must be painful.

Me: Tell me about it.

 

At the same party a while later…

Friend 2: How are you?! I heard about your finger. So what happened? The kids slammed the door on you or what? Kids are very fast these days.

Me: No, not the kids.

Friend 2: Huh, then who?

Me: It’s called “I SLOW”.

***

Thank you, everyone, for your love and concern. The thumb is better, the specialist has seen it and said it will get better (it can only be) and I will try my best to react quickly to car doors from now on to spare myself from more agony.

There was no fracture, by the way. Just a really hard slam and a bad bruise.

Fractured thumb

I hope these jokes make your day.

P/S: I am so happy I can now apply pressure to the injured thumb without much pain and will be back with regular programming in no time!

I can't categorise such entries

Thumbs down, break’s up

July 8, 2014

I’m going to be taking a break for a while from this space.

And it’s not because I need to catch up on kdrama or need a sanity break.

I’ve taken a lot more than I can handle this year and every day in 2014 feels like I’m doing an octopus dance, juggling the demands of a work-at-home-stay-at-home-do-everything-at-home mom. If you don’t already know, I’m trying to start and grow a business, and that in itself is consuming my brain matter. I am also running the day-to-day ops of the household and chauffeuring kids to school and from school daily, to and from Math and Chinese enrichment weekly, and taking up blog engagements that I feel will enrich my children. These, plus having to handle the mom guilt about not doing more homelearning with the kids and reading to them more than I should, and I end up finding myself needing to rethink about how to plan and discipline myself better to be more efficient and effective, and learning to identify distractions and get more focused.

Someone here needs to work out her priorities it seems.

And for now, I also need to rest my thumb because I’m functioning with 9 fingers.

I had stupidly slammed the car door on my right thumb during the weekend. Yes, no kidding.

Which resulted in a swollen thumb that throbbed incessantly to the point I felt light-headed and had to get an x-ray done only to remind myself of how s—–l—–o——w—— I was in my reflexes because it was revealed that I had inflicted upon myself a chip fracture.

Swollen and fractured: Which is worse than contractions at childbirth, by the way. At least contractions had a purpose. This pain just reminds me of how slow I am. That's all.

Swollen and fractured: Which is worse than contractions at childbirth, by the way. At least contractions had a purpose. This pain just reminds me of how slow I am. That’s all.

There, I said it – the embarrassing reason why I won’t be writing for a while. Even typing this post is getting the thumb throbbing a little once every five hits.

Till then, when the thumb’s up.

(Self) Examination Ben Kao Family life as we know it Milestones and growing up The darndest kid quotes and antics

Police force

July 3, 2014

Five is the age of policing. I am so convinced it is. At least that’s the case for my son.

Ben has a strong sense of justice and a constant need to know if something is right or wrong. He tattles, quite often, but doesn’t do it just so his siblings get in trouble. More often, he does it because he needs to know from the adult if a behaviour or an action is acceptable or not.

Which means he takes on the role of the moral policeman in the house.

“Becks, you need to say ‘Please’ when you need something. I want to hear it before I do it for you. C’mon.”

“Nat, this is wrong. You need to say ‘sorry’. Go and say that to Mama now.”

“Mama, do not check your phone in the car. No reading in a moving vehicle, remember?”

“If it’s wrong for me to say ‘idiot’, why does Dada call some drivers ‘idiot’ when he drives? Dada should not do that.”

“Aunty A, please pronounce properly. It’s ‘prawn’,  not ‘frawn’. Say it correctly lah.”

As you can see, everyone in the house gets corrected by him all the time, almost every day. And he’s usually right 9 out of 10 times. His correction would often leave you embarrassingly speechless.

Just the other day, the police force in the house just said something that took the cake.

Ben: Mama, why is Becks so lucky?

Me: Why is she lucky?

For the record, I dislike that word. We never use it and it was the previous helper that taught him that. We tell our children it’s always God’s grace, never luck. So you can imagine the annoyance in my tone when I asked him why.

Ben: Good things always happen to her.

Me: Really? What good things have happened?

Ben: The good thing that happened to her is me. She’s so lucky to have an older brother who do everything for her. I help her, give in to her, pack for her. She can throw tantrums but I will just help her still. Aiyo... this is lucky what.

Me: *speechless*

I really didn’t know what else to say. You’re talking about me, Motherkao, Ben’s mother, who must have the last word.

See? We have the force right here, always checking to see who’s good and bad, who’s naughty and nice. There, my five-year-old for you.

***

That night I related the conversation to the husband, who, after hearing about it advised me to pay more attention to the children’s emotional needs. He saw what I didn’t. He saw that Ben in his policing was seeking our approval. It was clear to Fatherkao that Ben needed to know that we would always approve of him.

Just at that moment, Ben interrupted our conversation in the bedroom by coming in to tattle on his sister. Like I mentioned, I don’t think his intention was for us to head out to discipline her. He came and told us something she did which was not right, along the lines of her leaving her seat before her dinner was finished.

The response Fatherkao had and the subsequent exchange between father and son was pretty amazing. This was it:

Fatherkao: Ben, I don’t need to know that. I want you to tell me or show me what’s important to you.

Ben: Ok, Dada.

And my five-year-old proceeded to do a forward roll to show his father, and they all had a good belly laugh on the bed.

So. The moral of the story. The moral police in the house stops policing and starts behaving like the five-year-old he ought to be the moment he knows that he is loved and approved by the two most important people in his life. In all that he was doing, pointing out people’s mistakes and wanting to know what’s right and wrong, he was crying out for us to look at him, hold him and affirm him.

***

Motherhood has such thrills, isn’t it? It’s a steep learning curve but you learn so much. Your children teach you to love, how to love, and how to be more human every day. At least that’s the case for me.

Ben the Just

Ben, you teach me more than you can imagine. It’s really my honour and a privilege to be your mother, sweetheart.