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December 2014

(Self) Examination Getting all sentimental now

Last post of the year

December 31, 2014

In 2014, I embraced the challenge of starting a business on top of juggling the demands of full-time motherhood.

In 2014, I had the privilege of being the mother to a 5-year-old, a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old and being in a marriage of 10 years.

In 2014, the blog turned 2. This post marks the 430th piece of writing I have done on this space. This space has grown to be a place of meaning and purpose – at least for me; a platform in which I could breathe in and reflect – and reconnect with life, living and motherhood.

It was a busy, glorious year.

And part of the glorious busy would not have happened if not for you. Thank you for being a part of this gloriously busy, but fulfilling year, because this blog would not exist if not for you.

Happy New Year!

Last post of the year - Copy

All this blog's PR Stuff Christmas happiness Going Out! Happy days Holidays! Milestones and growing up Reviews The Kao Kids

Awesomeness at LEGOLAND – Part 2, LEGOLAND Theme Park & Water Park

December 30, 2014

After we did the slowly slowly thing on Day One of our getaway to LEGOLAND Malaysia Resort, and thoroughly just relaxed and enjoyed the hotel facilities and activities, you would think that we would start on our chiong-like-crazy (or dash like mad, for our non-Singlish folks) thing on Day Two since we were very kindly sponsored a Theme Park and Water Park One-Day Combo Pass.

It was really generous of LEGOLAND to give us a One-Day Combo Pass, but it did inevitably translate to some kind of rushing stress to make full use of every single hour of the parks’ opening, and cover everything we can to make the ticket worth it.

So again we had to consciously decide NOT to rush; to do the slowly slowly, and to even be prepared to buy tickets on the third day if we wanted to spend more leisurely time at the park.

We were sure hell-bent on doing the Slowly Slowly Movement for this trip.

So did we manage to enjoy two parks in one day? Yes, we did. And we didn’t rush like crazy and only because we did what we felt we want to do. This included returning to the hotel for a one-hour nap.

Here’s what we did, and how we did it:

1. We did make some effort to wake up earlier, instead of at anytime we wanted.

We woke up at 8.30 am, got dressed and prepped our day-pack with caps, raincoats and water. We slapped on sunblock and mozzie repellent, headed to the Bricks Family Restaurant (remember to factor in the wait to be seated!), ate our usual portion for breakfast (as opposed to going for many rounds even if it was a buffet!), did one toileting round at the hotel and headed to join the queue by 9.55 am.

2. We entered the Theme Park at 10 am sharp and turned right.

There was a human swell at about 9.50 am but the queues moved pretty fast the moment the gates opened. The moment we were inside, I rented a double stroller for RM22.50 (hotel guests get a discount, compared to the usual rental rate of RM45) and we turned right from The Beginning to head straight to Lego City. I’ve read on many blog reviews that the right side of the park was catered more for younger children, and since I have a 5, 4 and 2 year-old, it only made the most sense that we got them to enjoy what the park had to offer them. I’ve also briefly walked around the Theme Park when Ben and I were invited to preview the Star Wars Miniland Model Display earlier in September this year, so I was sort of familiar with the layout and map.

Picture Credit: LEGOLAND Malaysia Resort

Picture Credit: LEGOLAND Malaysia Resort

3. We only did things that we would all be happy doing together, including waiting for one another.

This meant queuing only if everyone agreed to join the queue (or wait for whoever who wanted to ride to queue and finish) and promising to wait patiently.

There was no queue for Junior Driving School (the first thing that greeted us at Lego City) and even then only Ben was game enough for it. The circuit was uncomplicated and the experience was completed in no time.

Ben at Junior Driving School

Ben at Junior Driving School

I say 5 is the golden age where a kid is game to try anything!

I say 5 is the golden age where a kid is game to try anything!

You can get a proper card license with your photo at RM20

You can get a proper card license with your photo at RM20

Say! Driver's license!

Say! Driver’s license!

We waited for his “driver licence” (which we paid a fee of RM20 for) longer than the drive and queue put together (had to fill in form for name, make payment, wait for print, etc), but it was a good warm-up for the kids to understand what it was like being in a theme park. Until now, the only theme park they have been to was Hongkong Disneyland, which I’m not sure whether they remember.

We queued at the Boating School for a bit, and steering the battery powered boat was one memorable experience.

Steering a powered boat for the first time

Steering a powered boat for the first time

It's nice to go boating

It’s nice to go boating

It was around then it started to get really scorching hot. The heat was beginning to get to us. And we were not even there for two hours yet. Although I’d rather the sun than rain, my family and I don’t really function very well under heat. If you follow this blog, you would recall how happy Ben and Becks were when it poured all through our 5-km walk for the Hello Kitty Run earlier in November.

So. Some people were gradually turning into grumpy pots by about 11 am actually.

Not so smiley anymore sitting on Santa's sleigh, as you can see

Not so smiley anymore sitting on Santa’s sleigh, as you can see

We then ventured into Rescue Academy to put out the fire and stop the robbers, and despite the fact that our family of 5 had to be broken up into two to take two fire engines, it was a really exciting activity for all of us. This, no queue at all.

There's a fire, and we headed for the rescue mission

There’s a fire, and we headed for the rescue mission; pity we didn’t manage to snap anything of ourselves moving the fire engine manually!

We then retreated into Lego City Stage for the show, When Santa Got Stuck in the Chimney, at 11.30 am; and I would be the first to admit that it didn’t really matter what I was watching. I was just so glad to have air-con.

So we learnt, that Santa got stuck in the chimney, and he's a real dude that comes every Christmas if you believe!

So we learnt, that Santa got stuck in the chimney, and he’s a real dude that comes every Christmas if you believe!

With the cast of the show

With the cast of the show

So we didn’t take the LEGOLAND Express (queue was too long), didn’t go for any other rides except Lost Kingdom and Beetle Bounce at the Land of Adventure, didn’t ride the roller coasters at Lego Kingdom and didn’t take the water plunge at Dino Island after the show. Many rides appeared too daunting for Nat and Becks, and it was always “No, don’t want”, when we asked if we should go for this and that. My little girl just sat on the stroller people-watching half the time, and Nat was pretty shaken after going on the Beetle Bounce. Ben was the only one game to try everything, but the heat by 12 noon got to us quite a bit, and we decided to play carnival games instead (which were all around in booths and very expensive!) and stop at Burger Junction for lunch.

Nat looking ghastly going for the Beetle Bounce drop

Nat looking ghastly going for the Beetle Bounce drop

After a nice lunch at Burger Junction, the kids were more game to take some pictures and were happy just to watch bigger kids play at the Build & Test site (it’s also air-conditioned), where they built cars and tested them in circuits and ramps. Ben and Fatherkao braved the heat to try out the Kids Power Tower which was really fun for all of us watching. We then played a few more carnival games and walked away with two stuffed tigers and a unicorn, and were happy to head back to the hotel for a nap.

Bigger boys playing at Build & Test

Bigger boys playing at Build & Test

Ben with Laval from Legends of Chima

Ben with Laval from Legends of Chima

Brontosaurus!

Brontosaurus!

And Nat's favourite - triceratops!

And Nat’s favourite – triceratops!

Video: Kids Power Tower

Ah, LEGOLAND. If only the trees around us were a little taller, wider and stronger. The heat made all of us more tired than we normally would be, and we had to go back to sleep a bit.

We were really glad to have the hotel room to escape from the heat.

4. We spent two hours at the Water Park.

When we woke up from our nap, it was about 4 pm. The next two hours spent at the Water Park was spent in a light drizzle (unpredictable weather, what’s new?).

But it meant the mood was cheerier because the air was lighter and the heat was gone. And I’d buy tickets to just enter this park instead in a heartbeat anytime.

Because?

Because even though these two couldn’t go on most of the slides, they were contented to sit for a long, long time by the wave pool. Chatting and laughing.

And it was such a joy to watch.

Just cautiously sitting together by the Wave Pool, Nat and Becks

Just cautiously sitting together by the Wave Pool, Nat and Becks

Talking and laughing...

Talking and laughing…

...And people-watching in silence

…And people-watching in silence

Although there were over 20 thrilling slides here at the Water Park, Becks and Nat were totally at home at the Duplo Splash Safari and the Wave Pool, while Fatherkao and Ben were happy to go again and again for Red Rush, Build-a-Raft River and Splash n Swirl.

Me? I was as pathetic as pathetic can be sitting around in the drizzle just watching everyone in action as I had to entertain a “visitor”. It was that time of the month. And alas, I looked around for tampons at the Medini Mall and found none.

LEGOLAND Water Park, I’ll come back for you.

On hindsight, we might have done better visiting the Water Park first with the combo pass, and head to the Theme Park later in the evening at 5 pm. But I’m not sure if that would have satisfied the Lego fans under my charge, because the Theme Park had a lot more Lego awesomeness than the Water Park. But, oh well.

5. Bathe at breakneck speed and go back to LEGOLAND Theme Park before it closes at 8 pm

Ok, this was the only thing we rushed our kids after the Water Park closed at 6 pm. We hurried them in the shower at the hotel, and almost ran back to the Theme Park (which extended opening hours to 8 pm in December). We managed to go on Project X, the 18-metre high roller coaster  – me, Ben and Fatherkao – twice in the cool of the evening, but that was it.

By the time we finished touring Star Wars Miniland, the rides at Lego Kingdom were closed (they shut down at 7 pm). We had hoped to go on the Dragon’s Apprentice and the Royal Joust when it was cooler in the evening, but didn’t know the rides shut at 7 pm. I don’t know why we thought it was 8 pm.

It's closed, the Dragon Apprentice, and we're really sad!

It’s closed, the Dragon Apprentice, and we’re really sad!

Nonetheless, we soaked in the sights of Christmas lights and the voices of Christmas carolling the last hour we were there at the Theme Park. After the drizzle that day, it was finally cool and the awesomeness of LEGO happened for us all once again.

Chrismas carolling

Chrismas carolling

The 9-metre high Christmas Lego Tree made of 427, 695 Lego Duplo bricks, decorated with hand-built ornaments: what a sight!

The 9-metre high Christmas Lego Tree made of 427, 695 Lego Duplo bricks, decorated with hand-built ornaments: what a sight!

***

Might I make a few suggestions, LEGOLAND?

  • If you had night tickets like that of Universal Studios Singapore during the Christmas season (where you can choose to buy tickets only for entry from 5-9pm), I would gladly buy them. The heat may be a little unbearable for younger children.

 

  • To solve the problem of unpredictable weather, perhaps more tents and canopies? We were ready with caps and sunscreen and brollies, but still. It would be great if the park was more covered so we can have temporary relief from heat, or rain, for that matter.

 

  • Could we please have water points? Most theme parks do! I brought my helper along, and I was glad to have lugged her for this trip because the sole purpose of her being there was to help us with the water for the three kids and to make sure all of us were hydrated. I read from reviews there were no water coolers available, so I came prepared. I can’t imagine those who didn’t, and like me, have 3 young kids in tow. Can’t possibly be going around hunting for stores and snack bars to buy water, right?
  • Would you consider offering an Express Queue system? In the heat, I might gladly pay. So I might be able to ride more rides with less stress. And the adrenaline, instead of the heat and queuing, might get all of us going.

Apologies if I sound like such a wuss. Just some suggestions.

***

Having said all these, I am extremely, extremely thankful for this wonderful opportunity to be found in LEGOLAND Resort. Like the hotel, we love the details. We were wowed, especially at Miniland, by every single Lego-constructed mini monument and landscape. We were impressed at the awesomeness of seeing almost life-sized dinos, animals, people and things, constructed all by Lego. The fans in the house were very gratified, because that – that is the awesomeness of falling in love with Lego over and over again.

Beyond the rides and queues and carnival games.

Beyond the thrill of splashing down a slide for the third time or going up a roller coaster.

To us, the beauty of Lego is the ability to imagine and build, and has always been the reason why we love Lego.

Thank you, LEGOLAND Malaysia, for being such a generous host!

This was us, doing the L-E-G-O!

This was us, doing the L-E-G-O!

Disclosure: This review is in no way representative of the views of LEGOLAND Malaysia Resort. We were kindly sponsored a family one-day combo pass and meal vouchers for the purpose of this post. All opinions here, including experiencing heat and waves of awesomeness, are our own.

All this blog's PR Stuff Christmas happiness Going Out! Happy days Holidays! Reviews The Kao Kids

Awesomeness at LEGOLAND – Part 1, the Hotel

December 27, 2014
LEGOLAND Hotel Welcome

LEGOLAND Hotel Welcome

If Disneyland is the place where magic happens, then LEGOLAND is the place of awesomeness.

I must be one of the last few people from the island of Singapore to go to LEGOLAND at Iskandar Malaysia. Almost everyone I know can boast of a ‘been there, done that‘.

I’ve been biding my time, waiting for Nat to finally hit a height of at least 90 cm so he can be allowed to take some rides at the theme park and the time has finally come.

So to LEGOLAND we go! How can we not be found in a place of endless awesomeness of Lego, Lego and more Lego this holidays when I have ardent Lego fans in the house?

We checked out the LEGOLAND Malaysia Resort’s hotel, theme park and water park earlier this December, and here are the highlights (as well as the not-so-high ones, as you will read) of our short getaway by car, with three children aged 5, 4 and 2 in tow.

Presenting, Motherkao’s very own review on LEGOLAND Hotel, using the acrostics (what else?) L-E-G-O-L-A-N-D…

*drumroll, please*

Leaving Singapore for the LEGOLAND Malaysia Resort

The LEGOLAND Malaysia Resort is definitely nearer than we thought it was. It was a relatively smooth ten-minute drive the moment we set off after custom clearance at Tuas Second Link. It was easy to drive there (Tuas Checkpoint SGD3.20 using the cashcard and only one toll to pass in Malaysia at RM15, so prep your Touch ‘n’ Go card), and much more direct than we had expected. Basically, just drive till you see Nusajaya Exit 312 and follow the huge brown ‘LEGOLAND’ signs that point you to the direction of LEGOLAND.

It was that easy – drive straight all the way, exit at 312 Nusajaya, look for the brown. Totally idiot-proof.

Map from LEGOLAND Malaysia Resort Website. More directions here.

Map from LEGOLAND Malaysia Resort Website. More directions here.

We were going to be checking in to the hotel, so we parked at the hotel carpark. It’s free-of-charge for guests and RM30 if you’re not an inhouse guest. Parking is sheltered and the carpark has ample spaces for parking (two basements), with many cars parked backside in (so I assumed it’s pretty safe, considering we were advised to park head in in Malaysia).

Exchange and Fair Trade

The Wall of Minifigs at the LEGOLAND Hotel Malaysia

The Wall of Minifigs at the LEGOLAND Hotel Malaysia

Prior to making this trip, I learned about the practise of swapping LEGO minifigures (also affectionately known as minifigs, in Lego-speak) from Wacky Duo’s post. Apparently, it’s a tradition which began in LEGOLAND Florida in which a complete minifig can be exchanged or traded with any staff in the resort who has a nametag that reads’ TRADE WITH ME’ as frequent and as often as possible.

If you’ve read Wacky Duo’s experience trying to do the minifig exchange (that was in October this year), you’d have learned that it wasn’t as pleasant as they had hoped it would be. Nonetheless, I placed my confidence, albeit a little too early,  on this piece of press release by LEGOLAND and told Ben (the biggest Lego fan in the house and the owner of I-don’t-know-how-many minifigs) to prepare some for making exchanges. You know how those Lego blind packs work, right? How you can end up with the same figure five times after opening five packs.

So yea, I told him to fix up all his extras, pack them in his luggage and do his swaps should he find someone he wants to trade with.

At the hotel, we waited and looked around while playing at the lobby for exchanges to take place which we could witness. Nothing. No one did any. No trading was taking place. Curious, I asked the staff at the reception if the practice of swapping minifigs was scrapped. He smiled and said it still very much was ongoing, and asked if we wanted to exchange with him.

And then the LEGO-AWESOMENESS happened. My son, at 5 years of age, mustered his courage to exchange his first minifig, and there was no turning back.

Ben exchanged his minifig for a race car dude

Ben exchanged his minifig for a race car dude

Unlike what Wacky Duo experienced (the staff rejecting exchanges because minfigs were glued to their tags), everyone whom we subsequently asked, spoke with or even leaned close to just to examine their minifigs shared in the excitement of the minifigs trade. A very huge improvement since October 2014.

Ben then went on to exchange his second and third, and even gave his sister the courage to exchange hers.

She likes the funky girl on this lady's nametag - and mustered courage to ask her to trade

She likes the funky girl on this lady’s nametag – and mustered courage to ask her to trade

Sure, the lady said, and the exchange happened

Sure, the lady said, and the exchange happened!

Happy to have completed the trade successfully!

Happy to have completed the trade successfully!

And I had to join in the fun to exchange one, too. I was in LEGOLAND, for crying out loud, and I must do my part to keep this tradition alive, yes?

I liked his disco ball dude, so I exchanged my grunge guitarist; we kept the accessories cos' the 'Model Citizens' (the staff at LEGOLAND Hotel) do not have accessories to their minifigs

I liked his disco ball dude, so I exchanged my grunge guitarist; we kept the accessories cos’ the ‘Model Citizens’ (the staff at LEGOLAND Hotel) do not have accessories for their minifigs

Now, that’s some awesomeness there. We were happy owners of new minifigs, completely mixed and matched in randomness, and totally loving them.

Remember to keep the tradition alive and bring some minifigs for swapping the next time you come!

Goosebumped by some unpleasant birds at Bricks Family Restaurant

Gourmet Bricks Family Restaurant

Bricks Family Restaurant

The Bricks Family Restaurant is the place where buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner are served. The LEGOLAND hotel has 249 rooms in total, so you can imagine what a feat it would be feeding all the hotel guests at breakfast.

Because breakfast time for most normal, functioning human families starts from 9am to 10am, the human traffic swells to an all-time high at this place at this peak hour. A wait of 10 minutes or more is usually expected before you get a table, which was fine by us, since the feeling of hunger can be easily forgotten by the distractions all around the entrance of the Bricks Family Restaurant, namely the soft Lego play pits and Xbox corner.

Clowning around the huge Lego sundae

Clowning around the huge Lego sundae

Stepping on soft Lego blocks

Stepping on soft Lego blocks

I’m ok with waiting (but not for too long) during my holidays, really. We didn’t really wait very long anyway. 15 minutes thereabouts to me is acceptable.

But I am not ok fending off crows.

The first time we had breakfast there at this restaurant, we were seated outside.

I know crows are nobody’s fault, but it was harrowing to be eating with crows watching us, ready to attack our food the moment we were gone. And since it’s a buffet, how many times would we be gone? And the thing with crows is that they are oblivious to young children. Smaller children are hardly humans they should be fearful of, and I constantly feared for our lives having that meal. I know I’m exaggerating a bit here but you get the drift.

I get goosebumps having a crow or two watch me eat. I am terrified of crows. And my children too.

Outdoor dining

I don’t have any pictures of crows to show you, but please tell the Bricks Family Restaurant folks you want to sit inside rather than out if you don’t like crows too. This is where we dined when we were watched by hawk-like crows.

On our second day we were assigned indoor seats, thankfully. And that was when I could taste my food a whole lot better, even though I was also constantly worrying for the children who were outside. Anyway, since I could taste my food a little better than the day before, I am so not glad to be saying that the food didn’t taste fantastic. It was mass cooked, for sure; and I wouldn’t blame the folks either because serving up breakfast to so many people everyday during crowded school holidays season sure isn’t an easy thing (the restaurant can seat up to 465 guests). Nonetheless, it was disappointing to not get good food in Malaysia.

Because Malaysia to me has always been about good food.

Other Hotel Facilities and the Slowly Slowly Movement

LEGOLAND Hotel itself deserves one full day of your time to explore and to immerse yourself in.

Legoland Hotel entrance, with a fiery dragon to welcome us!

Legoland Hotel entrance, with a fiery dragon to welcome us!

I will state from the onset that their check-in and check-out times will make a fool out of you if you’re a true LEGO fan – who would love any moment of admiring the details in Lego construction and pieces – and if you intend for your stay at the hotel to be only one night and not more.

Check-in is at 4pm and check-out is at 11am. Tell me, how to stay only for one night?

Most people that have done the hotel stay and park visits will tell you that the best way to experience the entire resort is to stay for at least two nights. I’m glad we did. We were very kindly hosted by LEGOLAND for our first night, and offered corporate rates for our second, complete with a  complimentary one-day Theme Park and Water Park combo pass for the entire family.

The kiasu mother in me had grand plans to make the best of our stay. The grand plan, like what most people’s itinerary (or so I heard and read), was to hit the road by 8am, reach the hotel to leave our luggage by 9.30am and then start our theme park fun the moment the park opens its doors at 10am. When it gets too hot and we need to cool down from the heat, we’ll adjourn to the Water Park just next to the Theme Park after lunch and spend the later part of the afternoon there. When the Water Park closes at 6pm, we’ll head back to the Theme Park for the Christmas programme and lights since it closes at 8pm.

Sounds perfect? Apparently NOT.

The husband learned of this plan and gave me two very specific instructions on what NOT to do for this getaway: rush everyone around like a mad mother hen; spoil the holiday by yelling at the kids.

And then he said, judging from the flow of my very packed itinerary, I was definitely going to do both. He requested for this holiday to be as relaxing and as fun as possible, and that there be no to-do-list to check.

So out of respect for the man who’s worked so hard the whole year long, we did the “slowly slowly”. Slowly slowly get ready and wake up anytime we wanted, slowly slowly drive to Malaysia (we avoided the AYE traffic by setting off at 10am), slowly slowly leave the luggage in the concierge, and then slowly slowly head to Medini Mall (next to Theme Park) for lunch. After lunch, slowly slowly explore the shops for old school snacks and take kiddy rides for RM1.

Then slowly slowly walk back to the hotel and explore the play pits at the lobby, building, stacking, building, stacking. Slowly slowly walk around to look for minifigs to exchange, and then try our luck for an earlier than 4pm check in, which we got, at 2.30pm.

Steering the pirate ship

Steering the pirate ship

Pretending to be imprisoned in the dungeon

Pretending to be imprisoned in the dungeon

Squatting next to a skeleton!

Squatting next to a Lego constructed skeleton!

Busy at the playpit

Busy at the playpit

Becks at Play

Becks at play

Big Boy at play

Big Boy at play

Weapon complete!

Weapon complete!

Weapon complete!

Weapon complete!

Ben at Play_Weapon Complete

Super weapon complete!

And then slowly slowly walk to the themed hotel room, admiring the details on walls, carpets, furnishing, decor and elevators along our way. This slowly slowly gig turned out to be extremely relaxing, and FUN!

Slowly slowly exploring the lobby and the intricate details in every Lego piece

Slowly slowly exploring the lobby and the intricate details in every Lego piece

Cannot miss the chance to do the elevator dance in all the themed elevators with disco music and disco lights! Awesome!

Cannot miss the chance to do the elevator dance in all the themed elevators with disco music and disco lights! This one can’t be slowly slowly, cos’ the music playing was YMCA! Awesome!

After we thoroughly checked out our hotel room (next point), we headed to the hotel pool for a leisurely swim.

Photo Credit: LEGOLAND Malaysia

Photo Credit: LEGOLAND Malaysia

The pool occupies a decent, peaceful space comprising an infinity pool (1.2m) overlooking the two parks and a children’s wading pool (0.6m). The kids had a good time slowly slowly splashing water and doing their dipping rounds, and it was all together completely relaxing once again.

It's nice to be on top of the world! Well, sort of.

It’s nice to be on top of the world! Well, sort of.

Before dinner, we walked around the hotel lobby again and realised that there were many daily activities taking place. There was a Build-a-Lego themed challenge daily, and for the month of December everyday, the best construction of something Christmassy wins a prize. All you needed to do was to use the bricks in the playpits and make something to the theme of Christmas and leave it at the reception counter. At the end of the day, all entries would be judged and a winner chosen.

That night we were there, there was also a ‘Guess the Number of Bricks’ contest in which we were invited to estimate the number of Lego bricks in a jar. Ben won that, that night, and earned himself a certificate and Lego brick keychain.

137 bricks was his guess, and of course, his father helped him estimate a bit

137 bricks was his guess, and of course, his father helped him estimate a bit

In addition to these things happening, we also slowly slowly checked out other play areas…

Kids spacing out

Kids spacing out

The lounging corner (where we watched a cartoon of the history of LEGO)…

TV Time!

TV Time!

And were treated to a good time of carolling by the LEGOLAND folks…

Christmas carolling at the lobby

Christmas carolling at the lobby

So much to slowly slowly do in one day!

LEGOLAND Hotel Room – We’re in a Kingdom!

Our hotel room. Ah, our hotel room! The highlight of our trip. Such details. Such awesomeness. How impressive!

Guess which theme we chose?

Guess which theme we chose?

We're in a Kingdom!

We stayed in a Kingdom Premium Themed Room!

The LEGOLAND Hotel has 249 themed guestrooms, following the three popular Lego lines – Pirate (think skulls and bones), Adventure (think Revenge of the Mummy) and Kingdom (think knights and armours). Each room can sleep up to 5 guests, with a king-size bed for adults, and a separate sleeping area for up to 3 kids, complete with a bunk bed, a pull-out trundle, their very own TV and a box of Duplo bricks for the young ones. The bathroom also comes equipped with a washbasin for children. What awesomeness!

Amused by Lego-inspired soap

Amused by Lego-inspired soap

But the best part – the best thing for me was the details in the room and that we had a room with a view. Everything was made to fit the theme, from the beds and the carpet to the wallpaper and even the Lego decor in the room!

Check this out, Ladies and Gents. This. This was the view from Room 323.

Check this out, Ladies and Gents. This.
This was the view from Room 323.

Nat Kao and the Frog

Nat Kao and the Frog

The details in the Children's Sleeping Area

The details in the children’s sleeping area

The entrance to the room

The entrance to the room

A Treasure Hunt and 4 Mystery Numbers

The highlight of our hotel stay, for my eldest son, the hugest Lego fan in the house, was the thrill that there’s a mystery box to unlock in the hotel room.

So we were told that there was a special sheet of paper to search for to get the questions for clues to unlock the mystery treasure chest. Ben jumped to work immediately, and wasted no time locating and counting the items that’s requested of him for his task.

I cheated by calling the reception for the code while he was busy at work so that I knew the code to unlock the chest before he did. Hurhurhur.

Understanding the task first

Understanding the task first

Solving the mystery of the hidden number and finding the clues

Solving the mystery of the hidden number and finding the clues

Nonetheless, the boy solved the mystery on his own, and was extremely elated to have found treasure inside the treasure chest!

Unlocking the chest

Unlocking the chest

Treasure!

Treasure!

It was his reward indeed, but one he gladly shared with his siblings because he is such a sweetheart – a Lego Spiderman magnet, a Lego Ninjago keychain and a Lego brick keychain!

Sharing is loving!

Sharing is loving!

Night time at LEGOLAND Hotel – A Beautiful Sight

I don’t know if you’ve done it. But we did. Take a slowly slowly walk in the still of the night and just soaking in the Christmas atmosphere and the idea that we’re in LEGOLAND.

The Theme Park at night

The Theme Park at night

The other entrance

The other entrance

Giant LEGO figs!

Giant LEGO figs!

The hotel lobby at night

The hotel lobby at night

The Castle at night

The Castle at night

Awesomeness.

Di Mattoni Restaurant

We were very glad to have found decent Italian fare at this restaurant in LEGOLAND Hotel, and that very much made up for the harrowing breakfast experience with the crows. The food here at Di Mattoni was extremely delightful, and we were really happy dining here. This restaurant deserves a mention especially, because despite being a place for fine dining and all, they catered completely for the kids – word search puzzles, colouring and Lego bricks to keep them occupied, you name it – while we waited for our food. Service was excellent as were the cocktails and dishes.

The entrance of Di Mattoni Restaurant

The entrance of Di Mattoni Restaurant

Glorious Italian fare

Glorious Italian fare and deliciousness

***

There you have it, a L-E-G-O-L-A-N-D review of the LEGOLAND Hotel, with more awesomeness than we imagined. So glad we initiated our Slowly Slowly Movement the first day we were there to thoroughly enjoy food, company, and LEGO!

LEGOLAND Hotel, we’ll be back!

***

Coming up: A review of the LEGOLAND Theme Park and Water Park

Disclosure: We were hosted by the good folks at LEGOLAND Malaysia for the purpose of this review for one night at their Kingdom Premium Themed Room, and offered a corporate rate for our second night. No monetary compensation was received for this post, and all opinions here, including being deluged by waves of awesomeness, are our own. 

(Self) Examination Getting all sentimental now Nat Kao Parenting 101 What to Expect... As a Mother

The last feed ever

December 20, 2014
Nat_Turning 3

Nat turning three in Feb

Warning: this is a post about boobs and breastfeeding

About a month ago, I stopped nursing Nat. He turns 3 years old in two months, so I guess I breastfed my youngest on demand, water-cooler style, for two years and ten months.

It didn’t happen just like that. I have been struggling to stop. have been hoping to nurse him for a long while more. Yes, you heard that right. I was the one who couldn’t let go.

After he turned two, I have been repeatedly telling him that he’s now a big boy and he should start drinking from the bottle. He’s been extremely dependent on those boobies (mine, of course) to calm him, soothe him and help him fall asleep. I also have been repeatedly chided by the older folks in my life who would give me the biggest scrunch on their faces when they heard he was still nursing. They would warn me to stop and put images of a six-year-old Nat walking up to me demanding to be nursed in my head and instill the fear in me that if I didn’t try to stop him from latching, I never will.

And so I did. Believe me, I tried staying away and not tucking him in, applying essential oils on his milk source and putting a huge bolster in between us. And every time he cried my heart would shatter into a million pieces.

And every time he said “Mama Milk so spicy, GO AWAY MAMA”, I would burst into tears and feel the wrench in my heart that gave me even greater resolve NOT to stop breastfeeding.

He is my last baby, you know. And the miracle of motherhood is that first feeling of exhilaration of being able to produce milk for the child born of your loins. And continue doing so as often as he wants or as much as you can. I liked that feeling very much, and the thought that he’s the last one makes me want to savour every minute of the exhilaration for as long as possible.

So Nat and I. We constantly did the “Ok, you’re a big boy now so no more Mama Milk” thing and the “Mama missed you so bad, come let me feed you some milk”  dance on alternate days for another ten months from the time he turned two, and whilst it was fun, he was going to be turning three.

And the images of a six-year-old Nat walking up to me demanding to be nursed started to frighten me more often than usual, and I thought I’d better have a talk with Nat before he turned three.

So for many nights in November, we started dreaming up his third birthday party and singing songs, and that was how I put him to bed nightly – yes, without the boobs. He would tell me he wants a Ninja Turtle cake one night, and then a triceratops on another, a Diego cake on another, and yak about his favourite things, and then sing himself birthday songs in English and Mandarin.

I guess doing this every night for a while made him realise he was a big boy. He didn’t even noticed he didn’t need to nurse to fall asleep.

And just like that, I didn’t even know when that was, I did my last feed on my last feed.

And just like that, this boy just hugs Mama after his Milo in a bottle, says his prayer and falls asleep.

And just like that, the boobies stopped milk production and there was no more supply.

Last afternoon, feeling a little sentimental, I offered Nat my boobs instead of his bottle.

Me: You want Mama Milk? (he fondly says this when he wants to be nursed)

Nat: Em, nope!

Me: Why? Come la, try!

Nat: Mama has no more milk. Last time I try. No more.

Me: Oh no. Mama has no more milk. Mama’s so sad. Mama has no more baby.

Nat: You lend other people’s baby la, Mama. (He meant borrow people’s baby to drink my milk!)

Me: Other people’s babies drink their own mother’s milk, dear. Where’s my baby?

Nat: No more baby.

Me: Then what are you? You’re Mama’s what?

Nat: I’m a boy.

Yep, my last feed was really my last feed ever. And just like that, this boy is sure he doesn’t want Mama Milk anymore.

Nat and Mama on the Carousel

Nat, my big boy

(Self) Examination Becks Kao Love language Milestones and growing up What to Expect... As a Mother

The day she asked for polished nails: a sober lesson in motherhood

December 12, 2014

When I was expecting a girl, I laid a few rules (for her) I was determined not to break.

She is to wear no makeup before she turns 16; she will not be allowed in high heels until her growth is complete; and there must be no nail polish found on her nails – both toes and fingers – at least before 16 years of age.

Why so strict, you ask.

Because there’s a saying in Chinese 早熟早烂.

In English, loosely translated: soon to ripen, soon to rot.

I’ve always believed that the moment a girl takes her first step towards vanity is that moment she begins to grow up.

I don’t want my little girl to grow up so fast, and I wish to bubble wrap her at least till she’s 12. Can I at least do that? She’s my only girl.

I don’t want my little girl to grow up so fast. I think I did – a little too early, in my opinion – and I lost time. Time to explore in complete childhood innocence the fun to be had and the purity in being totally girl-like. I lived every day as a child wanting to grow up and be like my mom, and now with the bi**h of hindsight, I so wished I had totally enjoyed myself running around barefoot, playing rough with my cousins and learning a sport instead of rummaging my mother’s wardrobe to apply lipstick and blush, wearing her clothes and high heels and hoping for a miracle that I would be a woman tomorrow.

I know it’s a journey for every girl, but as a mother, it is my deepest wish to delay that as much as possible.

I don’t do my fingernails at all (only my toenails when I need help with ingrown) and I don’t put on makeup in front of Becks. Still, my little girl sees her friends going to kindergarten in lipstick (some of them perpetually take out lip gloss to apply) and colourfully varnished nails. And since then, every day, she’s been longing for painted nails.

To the point that she takes my markers and paints them herself, and adds stickers for some good nail art measure.

No matter how I’ve encouraged her to play with her brothers, get involved with learning board games and play pretend to imagine a whole new world, she would naturally gravitate towards the path of vanity. I lost my blusher brush for months and found it hidden in her closet. She wanted to keep long hair and would badger me to buy her hair accessories. She also took my pearl strings and bracelets from my jewellery box and declared them hers. She started wanting to wear dresses and pretty shoes (she hasn’t asked for heels yet, thank God) and braided hair.

And this is the same girl, who at two years of age, refuses to put on anything that’s remotely a dress or skirt.

I have been saying no for many months to nail polish now, but today I decided to make her feel special, and to make her realise that Mama’s not that big an a**. And so I painted her nails, much to her surprise, delight and elation.

Why the sudden change of mind, you ask.

Because I understand that in motherhood I must be flexible. Because it is better me than anyone else to gratify that desire. Because it is more about the relationship I build with my daughter that will withstand the challenges down the road of vanity than the rules that I’ve made.

Because I intend to keep my daughter close to me for as long as I can, and to only let go when she is ready, and I need to do that with her feeling loved and not controlled.

And so she gets purple nails today.

Becks Kao and her purple nails 2

Becks Kao and her purple nails 1

Happy days The Kao Kids The real supermom

The 4th Baby

December 8, 2014

Finally, after many months of gestation, the 4th baby is finally born.

I’ve shared in previous posts about going back to work, making the work-from-home gig work out, and being a better mom for the kids because it’s back to work for me after staying home with them for 2 years.

I was at work making this baby.

If you're curious why BlueTree - blue is the colour of wisdom, and we believe in growing every child

If you’re curious why BlueTree – blue is the colour of wisdom, and we believe in growing every child

With Mom Blogger Friends who write at MumCraft, Mummy Ed, Xavylicious, Evespiration, RayConnieBaby and Amazingly Still

With mom blogger friends who write at Mum Craft, Mummy Ed, Xavy-licious, Evespiration, RayConnieBaby and Amazingly Still

And their kids!

And their kids!

We always knew that staying home with the kids was never the final destination of anything. It was to be the start of a journey to ideate and conceive the impossible.

I started this because I believe in education. I really do. I worked as an educator for 7 years and still miss every single day being in a classroom.

I’m not one of those crazy parents that hothouses her children but  judging by how the education landscape is changing and how increasingly populated we are as a country, I am beginning to think it is a little myopic to reject supplementary education totally and to dismiss it. Having been in classrooms at all levels from primary, secondary and pre-university, I see that there’s a lot that can be done with supplementary education that mass education cannot do. Mass education – and the quality of it – can kill the love for learning and the true motivations for thinking. Mass education can only do what it does best – to mass produce.

And hence, my little own “school”.

And so if this blog is becoming silent for a while, please forgive me. I’ve got a whole lot of nursing to do with this new baby. This space will still be what it was meant to be – a chronicling of my journey as a mother of the Kao kids whom I had back to back (and how time flies; they are 5,4 and 2 now!) which would be my gift for these precious babies who have taught me much about life. This blog will not become a business platform, I assure you. It will remain a sacred space where you will commiserate with me the woes of raising children (hurhurhur), as well as share vicariously the joys of happy moments and beautiful times.

I may be wrapped up with the new baby for now but my heart will always belong to the three babies at home who have so much love in their hearts to give. This space will always be for them, and about them.

Picture by Orange Studios

Picture by Orange Studios

 

P/S: For the record, this baby isn’t all mine. I’ve got support and help coming from everywhere. I’ve always believed in angels.