Monthly Archives

April 2015

All this blog's PR Stuff Everyday fun! Family life as we know it Going Out! Happy days Milestones and growing up

Experiencing dinosaurs

April 30, 2015

One of the greatest joys of parenting is to be totally immersed and involved in your children’s obsessions.

Boys usually start with cars or balls. Then they move on to trains, dinosaurs, soldiers, LEGO and superheroes of all kinds.

Girls typically are obsessed with the colour pink, in addition to being a little mad about a cat with no mouth, princesses and dolls.

My boys have been into dinosaurs for the longest time. They can rattle those three to four-syllable names faster than I can call theirs, and it’s fascinating how they can immerse themselves so completely in the prehistoric world – from wanting to colour dinosaurs all day long and learning their names, to constructing massive dinosaur parks with thier LEGO bricks and dino figurines and pleading to go to Jurassic Park every single weekend.

Jurassic Park, by the way, exists in the minds of these boys.

In Universal Studios Singapore, that is (which is also called The Lost World).

Photo credit: rwsentosa.com

Photo credit: rwsentosa.com

This is a place where you can go dino-soaring on pterodactyls, put your head into a T-Rex’s mouth, and pat Diane, the park’s latest infant triceratops – which incidentally is the current obsession of Nat, my youngest. This boy loves, loves, loves triceratops.

Nat goes a dino-soaring with a green triceratops

Nat goes a dino-soaring with a green triceratops

And then real dino-soaring with the pterodacyls

And then real dino-soaring with the pterodactyls

And we meet Diane, the infant triceratops. She moves and responds to you when you pat her - which freaks my little girl out and fascinates her brothers

And we meet Diane, the infant triceratops. She moves and responds to you when you pat her – which freaks my little girl out and fascinates her brothers

This velociraptor dude looks so real and it moves!

This velociraptor dude looks so real and it moves!

T-Rex chomp!

T-Rex chomp!

Help!

Help!

The Lost World is a place we head to whenever my boys need their dino-fix.

We got the Universal Studios Singapore’s 6-month season pass in December last year and have been visiting the theme park on a regular basis. It’s a happy place, with happy music blaring everywhere; happy people always smiling, waving, laughing, greeting; happy mascots roaming around; and happy, happy rides.

Being there makes me happy. Being there makes my children happy.

We get fun times taking rides, goofing times posing for pictures, and laugh-out-loud times spotting characters. And best of all, we spend A LOT of time, as my boys would have it, at Jurassic Park, where their dinosaur dreams come alive. Their imagination takes off and soars to a new height with every repeated visit to this place.

There's a triceratops on top!

There’s a triceratops on top!

How about some predator a'roaring?

How about some predator a’roaring?

Toy store fun: Becks grab a stuffed toy but the boys... are all for jaws and teeth

Toy store fun: Becks grabs a stuffed toy but the boys… are all for jaws and teeth

You don’t know how grateful I am for Universal Studios. It has allowed me to participate in the dino-madness with my children, something which I know I wouldn’t be able to do for long because they will all grow up soon enough.

Next stop: the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Mueseum. We’ll be found there real soon!

Jurassic Park Huddle

Jurassic Park Huddle

***

Do you have a treasured moment of indulging with your children in their obsession? 

Cherish the special moments you have with your children. Share your very own fun-filled #FrisoMoment at apps.facebook.com/FrisoExperiences and stand to win a host of amazing prizes, courtesy of Friso Singapore.

Here are the mechanics:

How to participate

Submit a photo of you and your child sharing a special experience. You may submit 1 experience each week. Each photo submitted will earn you two instant rewards – A Friso Experience journal and a Friso voucher worth $5, $10 or $20. Friso Singapore will also select and print one photo in 4R size with a Friso frame and send it to you.

You will be eligible for weekly and grand prizes if you agree to display your image in the gallery to inspire other parents.

Prizes:
  • Instant prizes: Friso Experiences Journal + Friso Voucher will be awarded to every entry.
  • Weekly Prize: The best photos will be selected to win the weekly prize. If you didn’t win in the first week, you will still be eligible for the weekly prizes in the remaining weeks of the month.

Week 1 to 2 (7 Mar – 23 Mar) 8 x FujiFilm Instax Mini 8

Week 3: 5 x Rebel Kidz Retro Racer Balance Bike

Week 4: 5 x Annual Zoo membership [2 adults + 2 Child]

Week 5: 5 x GOPRO Hero Camera

Week 6: 3 x Port of Lost Wonders party package

Week 7: 5 x Fujifilm Instax Share Printer

  • Grand Prize: A year’s supply of Friso milk.

One winner in April will be selected from the top 25 most voted entries for the month.  You may vote once per day for each entry. Remember to include the hashtag #FrisoMoment on your IG and FB posts!

***

Disclosure: This post was brought to you by Friso Singapore. Friso Singapore has invited Motherkao to share her #FrisoMoment to inspire parents to experience MORE with their children.

Ben Kao Milestones and growing up

Can’t handle the toof

April 30, 2015

Tooth fairy, tooth fairy…

Someone’s been waiting.

Dentist Chair 01

Dentist Chair 02

Shaky tooth up. Shaky tooth down.

Discomfort  is… all around.

But we’ve got a wonderful dentist friend who tells him, “Don’t worry. It’s because your adult tooth is coming out. Everything looks great and you’ve got nothing to worry about.”

Epilogue in momspeak:

It feels like yesterday my baby had a budding tooth. Didn’t I just see a baby with a toothy grin a while back? It’s been 6 years, really? (This boy now calls me ‘Mom’ instead of ‘Mama’ and whines about his shaky teeth and butterflies in his stomach about going to the dentist.)

P/S: This is not a sponsored post. We see a really friendly dentist at ToofDoctors at Serangoon Central.

All this blog's PR Stuff Food, glorious food! Going Out! Holidays! The Kao Kids

Fly away spontaneity

April 29, 2015
The Transit Lounge at T2 where sunflowers abound and one is a little closer to the planes and skies

The Transit Lounge at T2 where sunflowers abound and one is a little closer to the planes and skies

During the long weekend that was the Good Friday weekend that was in April, we did the crazy spontaneous.

We booked a budget flight and got onto to the plane, away to KL for a 1D1N.

Yes, we left the country for a one-day-one-night spontaneous family getaway.

And it was such a fun one with everyone in tow, helper included.

We departed for KL on a 4.30pm flight on Saturday, arrived in KL at 5.30pm, took the KLIA Express to KL Sentral. From there we walked to Le Meridien where we got two rooms with an awesome city view, and then headed to Jalan Alor for dinner.

The luxurious beds at Le Meridien all to themselves. They say 'yay' and I say 'yay' too! No co-sleeping on this trip!

The luxurious beds at Le Meridien all to themselves. They said ‘yay’ and I said ‘yay’ too! No co-sleeping on this trip!

Walking down the food street at Jalan Alor

Walking down the food street at Jalan Alor

Our dinner consisting of chicken wings, satay, oyster omelette, carrot cake, char kway teow, beer (for the adults) and juice (for the young 'uns)

Our dinner consisting of chicken wings, satay, oyster omelette, carrot cake, char kway teow, beer (for the adults) and juice (for the young ‘uns) – awesomely yummy!

Back at the hotel room late at night, my husband sprang me a birthday surprise, and the kids and I were on an all-time high. They soaked in the warm water in the tub. The adults soaked in the city’s night view from the hotel window. By the time we crashed, it was close to midnight.

Happy birthday (again), this time from the hotel staff at Le Meridien, planned by Fatherkao

Happy birthday (again), this time from the hotel staff at Le Meridien, planned by Fatherkao

The next morning, we checked out and took a taxi to Seremban to meet with family, had lunch, and was back at the KL airport by 3pm, and back in Singapore – 3 hours later.

This was Restoran Xin Kai where we had great bak kut teh!

This was Restoran Xin Kai Xin in Seremban where we had great bak kut teh!

All with one big duffel bag and a huge dose of a sense of adventure.

Were we tired? Not at all. We were adrenaline-charged by this sudden burst of spontaneity.

For the kids, it was all about new sights and sounds, and non-stop eating.

For the husband and I, it was all about holding hands, which we haven’t done for the longest time.

For the family, it was all about experiencing a foreign land together and filling one memory page at a time, moving around from place to place and taking a flight together, watching the clouds and sunsets and pretending we were cruising through a billowing sea of cotton candy.

Any time spent with family is good time, and I am glad for this spontaneous family getaway

Any time spent with family is good time, and I am glad for this spontaneous family getaway

We would do this again in a heartbeat, this crazy spontaneous!

***

Cherish the special moments you have with your children. Share your very own spontaneous #FrisoMoment at apps.facebook.com/FrisoExperiences and stand to win a host of amazing prizes, courtesy of Friso Singapore.

Here are the mechanics:

How to participate

Submit a photo of you and your child sharing a special experience. You may submit 1 experience each week. Each photo submitted will earn you two instant rewards – A Friso Experience journal and a Friso voucher worth $5, $10 or $20. Friso Singapore will also select and print one photo in 4R size with a Friso frame and send it to you.

You will be eligible for weekly and grand prizes if you agree to display your image in the gallery to inspire other parents.

Prizes:
  • Instant prizes: Friso Experiences Journal + Friso Voucher will be awarded to every entry.
  • Weekly Prize: The best photos will be selected to win the weekly prize. If you didn’t win in the first week, you will still be eligible for the weekly prizes in the remaining weeks of the month.

Week 1 to 2 (7 Mar – 23 Mar) 8 x FujiFilm Instax Mini 8

Week 3: 5 x Rebel Kidz Retro Racer Balance Bike

Week 4: 5 x Annual Zoo membership [2 adults + 2 Child]

Week 5: 5 x GOPRO Hero Camera

Week 6: 3 x Port of Lost Wonders party package

Week 7: 5 x Fujifilm Instax Share Printer

  • Grand Prize: A year’s supply of Friso milk.

One winner in April will be selected from the top 25 most voted entries for the month.  You may vote once per day for each entry. Remember to include the hashtag #FrisoMoment on your IG and FB posts!

 ***

Disclosure: This post was brought to you by Friso Singapore. Friso Singapore has invited Motherkao to share her #FrisoMoment to inspire parents to experience MORE with their children.

(Self) Examination Ben Kao Milestones and growing up Mommy guilt

Great expectations

April 19, 2015

Being the firstborn almost always automatically means that there are more expectations of you than your siblings.

You are expected to share.

To be obedient.

To set an example.

To be sensible.

To understand.

At least that’s what I went through as a firstborn. And it’s something I have unconsciously put my firstborn through.

Six seems to be the age of meltdowns, emo-ing and lots of scowls. I get these almost on an hourly basis with my firstborn who turned six earlier this year.

He gets hurt easily by unkind words yet sometimes say the unkindest things without realising it; he polices everyone around with that tremendous sense of right and wrong; he balks at injustice and asks the most existential questions. He’s growing from baby thoughts and talk to being a boy, and is beginning to develop a personality and flair of his own, complete with warts and quirks.

And sometimes this mother is many steps behind in understanding what is happening to the child she first rocked in her arms.

Tonight I received a timely reminder to grow and change as my firstborn grows and changes.

***

It was time for bed. Our bedtime routine usually consists of a bedtime story before tuck in. Ben asked me while I was brushing my teeth if we could have one. I mentioned I was quite tired and joked, “Hey, why don’t YOU read us one?”

Excited at the thought, he went to choose a book – 10 Little Rubber Ducks by Eric Carle (for the tenth time now, maybe) – and waved it at me. To his disappointment, his sister had fallen asleep and Nat has chosen another story and refused to listen to any more of 10 Little Rubber Ducks again.

I tried to get the brothers to compromise. Look, let me take you all to Paris with Everybody Bonjours and then in the morning, when Becks is awake, Korkor can read ALL OF US his Ten Little Rubber Ducks! Nat was pleased but my eldest was starting to sulk.

By the time I finished reading Everybody Bonjours and declared it was time for bed, I had a full meltdown from a certain somebody. There was a scowl on his face, a high pitched ‘I DON”T WANT TO SLEEP, I WANT TO REAAADDDD, PULEEAASSEE…’, complete with some foot stamping.

That was when I lost it.

This is what happens every day. Things don’t go your way and you throw a tantrum. You don’t get to go somewhere, you whine. You don’t get to buy something, you whine. What happened to my sensible boy, my eldest child, who’s older than everyone else and should be able to understand things more? Why can’t you just try to see what I’m getting you to see? Your sister is left out here and she hasn’t had her story. And it’s 9 and it’s bedtime. Just understand that, say, ‘Yes, Mama’ and go to sleep. Simple, right? We can do a story tomorrow, with all of us, that’s fair, isn’t it? Why can’t you just listen and understand? Why can’t you just behave like a six year old should?  

And then there was the sound of silence and gentle sobbing under the blanket.

Was I being too harsh? Every child would want a gazillion stories at bedtime, but if we can’t, we just can’t, right?

Wrong. I was so wrong.

I asked Ben who was sobbing under his covers to get up and talk to me.

Me: Tell me, why was it so important that YOU had to read the story tonight and not tomorrow that you had to throw a tantrum?

Ben: Nothing.

Me: Don’t tell me nothing. You never say nothing if you feel something. Please think about it and tell me.

– Silence –

Me: Please, tell me. Don’t keep things inside you.

Ben: I wanted to show you love, Mama. I wanted to read to you to show you love.

Me: (I am choking by now) You wanted to show me love by reading me a book?

Ben: (in between sobs) I don’t know what else to do to show you I love you.

***

I held my firstborn close tonight. And after he fell asleep, I cried.

Because I was a fool of a mom to be always correcting behaviour but never tuning in to my child’s heartbeat, never once sensitising myself to his feelings as he grows.

Because I am doing what I’ve always known to do as I’ve been raised, never once stopping to listen to what my son is really telling me, always just expecting him to be the one that understands.

I’m the one that needs to understand tonight. That my firstborn’s heart is searching for ways to love his mother as he realises he is no longer that baby in her arms. That when I do peel away all the layers of tantrums and meltdowns, I see a child growing up because he is beginning to understand that love is no longer taking but giving of himself.

Ben

Post Script: 

Me: I’m sorry that I’m the one not understanding things. I’m really sorry.

Ben: It’s ok, Mama. (kisses me on the cheek)

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Sibling love cemented with LEGO

April 15, 2015

This post first appeared in: http://lego.featured.yahoo.com/post/115820751901/building-sibling-relationships

[The pictures in Yahoo Asia features me with the kids; the pictures used here in my blog depict the entire BUILD process.]

It’s finally possible.

A year ago it would have been nearly impossible for my three children to sit around a table and work on something together. Today, at 6, 5 and 3, they play so well together, role-play seamlessly to the point they know one another’s thoughts, and huddle ever so often to read (the same book) and share a conversation.

So to test their ability to collaborate and cooperate, I tasked them with a project during the recent March holidays.

I called it the “March Holidays Special Project”.

LEGO CITY Swamp Police Station was their special project this holidays

LEGO CITY Swamp Police Station was their special project this holidays

The instructions were simple and the rules were few. LEGO has kindly sponsored this Swamp Police Station LEGO City Set and I told them these were my conditions if they were to take the set from my hands.

Work on it together. Build it together. Do it in parts because it seems massive. And do your part.

And just one more for good measure: Don’t ask any adult for help, if possible!

Ok, Mama! they said.

I have excited kids, all ready to start!

I have excited kids, all ready to start!

I was a little skeptical. They had agreed to my terms so readily. I was certain they were going to give up and ask for an adult to help them. Truth be told, I was all prepared to. It would be a good bonding time with my children, anyway. But my six-year-old confidently said, “I won’t need your help. Or Dada’s help. And I don’t need to take a break. We can finish this. We’re master builders. “

I reminded him that a ‘group’ project meant that the younger ones need to be involved in some ways, and the operational word “together” meant that he may have to assign jobs to them because they would surely look up to him (he’s the grand master builder in their eyes!) for directions.

And so the kids got to work. They began by first sorting out the many packs and instructional booklets in the box. Becks helped Ben match the numbers.

The many instructional booklets and packs

The many instructional booklets and packs

Becks matching the booklet with the pack number

Becks matching the booklet with the pack number

Nat got a pair of scissors ready so that he could pass it to Ben to cut each packet open, as opposed to tearing the plastic recklessly and risk losing important pieces of bricks (so clever!).

Ben then assigned manageable roles for his siblings: Nat fixed the easy things, like the crocodile for the swamp. Becks helped to sort the LEGO bricks by size, while the big brother did the tougher jobs of snapping bricks in place and constructing the swamp police station with all the details.

Fix a croc

Fix a croc

Becks arranging the bricks by size so Ben gets to see what he needs at a glance

Becks arranging the bricks by size so Ben gets to see what he needs at a glance

Ben the Builder, at work!

Ben the Builder, at work!

With some help from Becks...

With some help from Becks…

Patiently constructing...

Patiently constructing…

...and constructing some more

…and constructing some more

When Becks and Nat did lose their stamina after a while of doing their job of sorting and helping, they assisted in other ways. They brought the master builder his Yakult and fed him fruit and cookies. They took care of him.

Say 'aah', korkor!

Say ‘aah’, korkor!

I sat around and watched the whole process in amazement. The strength of their bond was amazing. Even though they couldn’t stay as focused as korkor, they loved him in other ways to make up for not assisting. They knew that their big brother was in the midst of making something big and special – something everyone would get to play with when he was done.

And soon afternoon turned to evening and evening became night, and four hours later, TA-DAH!

This. This is my children proving to me it is Mission Possible.

This. This is my children proving to me it is Mission Possible.

Look at the details!

Look at the details! This belongs to the baddies.

And a cool sheriff!

Here’s a cool sheriff!

And a really awesome looking police boat

And a really awesome looking police boat

The full construction, with funny minifigs thrown in for fun!

The full construction, with funny minifigs thrown in for fun!

They didn’t take a break (well, at least Ben didn’t) and they made this, all with their little hands.

And the big brother gladly let everyone take the credit. “This is what WE built, Mama,” he said.

Happy to have completed their 'March Holidays Special Project' all thanks to Ben

Happy to have completed their ‘March Holidays Special Project’ all thanks to Ben

Creative play, imaginative construction and exploratory learning. I have always believed that LEGO was capable of immersing my children in all of that. What I never imagined was that LEGO, through my “March Holiday Special Project” helped my children bond, and gave them a chance to demonstrate care and support for one another. Most importantly, this project helped them experience what leadership and teamwork is all about, and how this can be something we can embrace in our household.

Disclosure: This post was first written for Yahoo Asia. LEGO Singapore provided the toys discussed.

All this blog's PR Stuff Learning fun! Product Reviews Reading fun Reviews The Kao Kids

Hey, Mom! We’re in a storybook! [Review: Kid Hero Stories]

April 15, 2015

I’ve never really had a problem getting my children to love reading. I’ve written about how to raise a reader in earlier posts here, here and here and I’m all for surrounding my children with books, books and more books, as well as reading to them and with them.

And on some days, I think it will be really great if these kids can take a break from the animals, the prince and princesses, the good and bad little boys and girls and the magic from the books they’ve been reading (or rather the books that are read to them) and enter into a wholly different experience.

I’m talking about being in the stories they read.

Thanks to Kid Hero Stories, my children got to enjoy a totally new reading experience during the March holidays. It was an experience complete with A LOT of laughter, and it was indeed A LOT of fun. They saw themselves in the story and laughed so hard!

Ben, Becks and Nat appeared as Ben, Becks and Nat in the Kid Hero Stories, going on adventures and doing fun things.

Like going to a birthday party…

KidHeroStories 01

Playing an egg and spoon race (which gave them ideas for games, by the way!)…

KidHeroStories 02 Fishing – and catching a smelly boot (this made everyone laughed so heartily!)…

KidHeroStories 03

And being so, so smart in the stories…

KidHeroStories 04

How cool is that?

My children thoroughly enjoyed the three stories, titled The Treasure Hunt, Message in a Bottle and The Birthday Party, that were emailed to us in PDF format, which I printed and bound for the ‘storybook feel’. All I did was to allow Kid Hero Stories to grab the pictures of my smiling children from my blog, and the good folks did up the personalisation under the ‘Sibling Series’.

KidHeroStories 05

KidHeroStories 07We huddled together to read the stories together, and even acted some parts out, like shouting, “It’s a fish! Ben has caught a big shiny fish!”, which left us all in stitches at the end.

And it was a whole new level of reading for Nat, who’s now 3 and an emergent reader, pointing to letters of the alphabet and associating letters with pictures. He was most excited with the stories.

And that excitement for those personalised stories continued after storytelling time was long over.

KidHeroStories 08

Takes reading to a whole new level, and boy, am I glad the littlest is also sharing his siblings’ love for books and for reading.

This is such a brilliant idea to get children to start reading, and continue reading!

More details:

Kid Hero Stories create fun, interesting and affordable collectible stories that kids look forward to receiving and reading. The subscription service of FOUR adventure eBooks starts from USD 7.90 per month. You can also order these eBooks as gifts for friends and family. More details of the types of books and rates on their website here. Or connect with them via their FB Page or Pinterest.

***

P/S: The stories can be viewed on a laptop or iPad because they are sent as soft copies. This mother here happens to be one of those who is strict on screen time and prefers the traditional way of reading, which includes feeling paper.

Disclosure: We were given three stories by the folks at Kid Hero Stories which in turn gave us a really precious afternoon together. No monetary compensation was received. All opinions here are my own.

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

How’s it looking, now that it’s April

April 14, 2015

I’ve been running round with a cape trying my best to be supermom ever since the year started and I can only say the road ahead will only get tougher for this super-tired mom. At this point of my life I am trying to do the entrepreneur-working-mom-slash-do-my-best-to-be-as-much-a-hands-on-mom but it’s one heck of an ambition and everyone around me tells me I am crazy / ambitious / crazily ambitious / ambitiously crazy / impossible.

I think so too.

My children are growing up so quickly before my eyes and if there’s only one consolation of being away so often now is the consolation that I did three kids back to back with only an 18-month gap in between each kids, and today Ben, Becks and Nat are BFFs. They entertain one another, help each other, and do everything after kindergarten hours together I now wear the back-to-back pregnancies like my badge of honour.

So if anyone reading this is looking for a reason to do their kids with a close age gap, I have just sold you one.

So how is it like to juggle the demands of running a business and being a mom? How does this mothering thing actually work now that I have a business to run?

Well, apart from not being able to do much meal planning and cooking (which my wonderful husband has kindly offered to step in to do) and having to outsource the mundane tasks like packing bags, showering and diapering (oh wait, it’s not a biggie anymore, with all the kids toilet trained, except for Becks and Nat for the night), and not hovering over and all around like the helicopter mom I always am, everything is still quite fine because we don’t take one another’s presence for granted now.

We now ask this question every day: how do we make the best of the time we have? 

My kids are gradually realising that being with Mama is precious; she doesn’t have all day to nag and wait for them like she used to when she stayed home for two years. We make the best of every moment we spend, and every short burst of activity we do becomes purposeful and meaningful.

So when it’s time for Mama School, the learning is differentiated. My helper supervises the work I prepare for the kids if I can’t be around…

Here’s sharing something I did with the kids earlier, when the boys were in the dinosaur craze:

Ladies and Gents, I need you all to meet Beth Gorden, one supermom who runs 123 Homeschool 4 Me, which has 300+ free printables and teaching ideas. She's got awesome theme packs to use, and here, I created a differentiated set from her free Dinosaur pack for my kids aged 6, 4.5 and 3

Ladies and Gents, I need you all to meet Beth Gorden, one supermom who runs 123 Homeschool 4 Me, which has 300+ free printables and teaching ideas.
She’s got awesome theme packs to use, and here, I created a differentiated set from her free Dinosaur pack for my kids aged 6, 4.5 and 3

I first made booklets with a cool cover page for each of them...

I first made booklets with a cool cover page for each of them…

Dino Work 03

I then culled what I felt was appropriate for each of my kid at his / her developmental level, sourced for more printables from the Internet and put them all together

For Ben, I made him learning bigger words

For Ben, I made him learn bigger words by creating my own set of worksheets for spelling

It's at least half an hour of engaged learning for the Kao kids

It’s at least half an hour of engaged learning for the Kao kids

And then they also come to Mama’s  actual “school” for their lessons. They interact with other children, and have lots of fun learning with Mama as their teacher…

This a Logic & Literacy class I run

This is a Logic & Literacy class I run

Learning at BlueTree 02

And another one for pre-primary children

My husband also takes them out to the amazing farms that are around us on some week days. We are living close to Seletar Farmway where the Animal Resort, Seaview Aquarium and Mycofarm (mushrooms!) are, and so they pop in and out like regular troopers on mini field trips…

Learning about fungi at Mycofarm (9 Seletar West Farmway 5, 798057), where you can buy mushrooms cheaper here

Learning about fungi at Mycofarm (9 Seletar West Farmway 5, 798057), where you can buy mushrooms cheaper here

Mycofarm 02

Just observing and exploring is meaningful time spent!

Sometimes, I schedule a quick bake break (especially when the bananas are turning black faster than we can say ‘bananas’), and they get involved…

The tasks are pretty much assigned for a banana cake. Ben mashes the bananas, Becks sieves flour and Nat whisks eggs

The tasks are pretty much assigned for a banana cake. Ben mashes the bananas, Becks sieves flour and Nat whisks eggs!

And then every night, we choose between catching past episodes of Running Man (which I believe greatly fuels their creativity) or reading bedtime stories. If they choose the latter, each of them gets to choose a book for me to read aloud. I bought all 50 books in this list so these titles (plus our Bible stories) are our bedtime staples.

And then it’s intense oiling and foot massage (if I still have the energy left) and time for bed.

I dish out like a million hugs and kisses at bedtime too. It’s to make up for not being around.

And when they go to bed, I start working again.

And the cycle goes on like this.

So.

I think it’s extremely doable – if you have an itchy backside like me and want to do things out there. You just need to make sure you have children who can keep each other company and be best friends and best enemies with, and then schedule in short bursts of fun and learning. Oh yes, that plus a really trusty right-hand aide (like a good helper whom you can outsource everything that is time-consuming to from ironing to steaming mantou for breakfast) and being able to reserve your last ounce of energy for a heartwarming tuck-in at bedtime every night.

You’ll be tired, I’m so sure you would; but nothing beats a healthy dose of ‘We-miss-Mama-we-will-treasure-her’ and ‘I-miss-my-kids-I-am-going-to-choose-my-battles’ every day.

Nobody’s gonna be taking nobody for granted these days, that’s for sure.

My babies and their Mama in a huddle

Wefie: My babies and their Mama in a huddle

***

P/S: If you’re all ready to start something and get entrepreneurial, you have a friend here. Hook up with me and we can give each other friendly, mommy support! 🙂

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De-Auntify Me: Browtisan Eyebrow Embroidery Touch-Up

April 5, 2015

Ever since I had eyebrow embroidery done, my life’s changed for the better. My eyebrows are now fuller and more well-defined, and my embroidered brows frame my face in a way that accentuates my eyes.

So how has life changed for the better? Well, for one, the perpetual issue of shaping my brows is no longer an issue. And for another, I am looking a wee bit better when I’m made up. It’s a little confidence boost I have here.

I’m not saying this just because the entire procedure from embroidery to the first and second touch-ups are sponsored – I’ve been invited to review the services at Browtisan, just so you know – but because if I looked like a wreck after this aesthetic procedure I put myself through, you bet I’ll be the first to shout it out loud to warn you.

But I don’t look like a wreck at all, and it’s about the only place I would recommend if you want to get any aesthetic procedure done. Here at Browtisan, where I recently had my first touch-up for my embroidered eyebrows, I had a good chat with its founder and Chief Creative Officer, Coco, and realised just how professional and how sincere she and her therapists are, and how much quality you can get out of their services here.

First, a little on the first touch-up. It’s a similar process to the first, which I wrote about here, except that it takes a shorter time because my embroidered brows looked really settled and nicely done, and all there’s left was to enhance the colour a little to make them look even more natural, and to fill in some tiny gaps that have faded off. I was a little late in responding to my first touch up appointment actually. Coco mentioned that I should have let her check my brows after a month, strictly speaking. But my schedule’s been mad since the year started, and I only got to her 3 months after my embroidery was first done in December.

Nonetheless, we got started.

This is the new (and 2nd) shop space of Browtisan

This is the extended new shop space of Browtisan on Level 3 at Delfi Orchard

Check out the new lux lounge chairs

Check out the new lux lounge chairs

Chilling on the lux couch while waiting for the numbing cream to take effect

Chilling on the lux couch while waiting for the numbing cream to take effect

And this was the glorious result.

Skilfully embroidered by experienced hands!

Skilfully embroidered by experienced hands!

Look at how much clearer the eyebrow shape is, and how it has framed the face

Look at how much clearer the eyebrow shape is, and how it has framed the face

And this was how they looked after the 5 days of no-water rule (brows must be taped with 3M Tegaderm to prevent water from touching them), which made me a very, very happy woman.

Natural lighting, natural colour, natural look

Natural lighting, natural colour, natural look: every stroke filled by Coco is now nicely settled and looking like they made sense on my face!

So I mentioned Coco and I had a chat because I started to ask her about her business, and she started sharing with me the many things that they do at Browtisan. Besides eyebrow embroidery and eyelash extensions, Browtisan also provides lip-liner and eyeliner embroidery service, as well as eyelash perming and even facial treatments. I got to see how I would look like should I have my eyelids embroidered too (and I really liked the look!). The eyeliner made my eyes bigger and deeper. I also got to see the products that Coco uses for facial (she uses MT from Japan!) and this awesome looking contraption that lifts the skin instantly. I know it’s instant because I got to try it on the spot.

This little thing is amazing: it lifts your skin in an instant!

This little thing is amazing: it lifts your skin in an instant!

I also hear that Coco gives free eyebrow embroidery services to cancer patients to boost their confidence, and that really earned my respect.

I like businesses that give back to society, and one that is helmed by genuine, passionate people. Browtisan is certainly one of them.

If you’re looking for a place to get luxurious facial treatments or aesthetic procedures like eyebrow embroidery done, I reckon you will get good service with heart at this place. Quote [Motherkao] or [Elizabeth from Motherkao blog] for a 10% discount off Creative Eyebrow Embroidery [starts from SGD 1380) at Browtisan. This offer is valid till June 2015.

Browtisan is the latest Clinical Standard Brow Salon located at Delfi Orchard (402 Orchard Road #03-17, Singapore 238876). It specialises in painless, non-invasive, highly-customised Creative Eyebrow Embroidery. Other services include eyebrow shaping and design, eyeliner definition, lips embroidery, eyelash enhancement, eyelash perming and facial treatments. Connect with them on their Facebook Page to get tips on brows, and PM their therapists should you wish to make an appointment. You can also call them at 6235 2355.

This is Coco. Look for her or her equally talented therapists for your aesthetic procedures and facials at Browtisan

This is Coco. Look for her or her equally talented therapists for your aesthetic procedures and facials at Browtisan

Disclosure: Motherkao received a sponsored Eyebrow Embroidery Session at Browtisan for the purpose of this review, thanks to an invitation of AT Marketing Consultancy. The opinions here are in no way representative of Browtisan, and are solely mine. 

You can read about my eyebrow embroidery experience and eyelash extension reviews here and here.

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

Birthday ramblings

April 2, 2015

I turn a year older today, and as usual, birthdays put me in a pensive mode.

Turning a year older when you were younger was always an exciting affair. Who’ll remember my birthday? Am I going to get cake? Oooh, presents! Oh yes, party! Let the feasting begin!

But turning a year older when you are now older always makes you think about where you are in life, what you have done these few decades you’ve been living on earth, and how do you move on and age better from here.

At least that’s what I think about.

I take stock of the time I have wasted being immature and willful. I remind myself that I can improve as a human being and be better – in and at where I am. I tell myself that I am now 34, and for crying out loud, not 14 or 24 any more, and I’ve got to take responsibility for the words I say, the emotions I feel and the choices I have made. Which mostly means I need to lower my expectations when it comes to mothering my children, and increase the expectations I have of myself being a better mate, a better colleague, a better friend, a better daughter and a better human being.

Because time gets more precious from this point forward.

And most of all, on birthdays, I take some time making wishes. And every year, I wish for more of God and less of strife; more of plenty and less of lack; more of love and laughter in my home and heart; and to live for others more than myself.

I have done nothing to deserve this, but this year, I’ve received some of the best presents I ever had all the three decades of my life put together.

Happy Birthday to Mama, Becks says, and she drew me like 5 of these girls on a card,"because that's you, Mama!".

Happy Birthday to Mama, Becks says, and she drew me like 5 of these girls on a card,”because that’s you, Mama!”.

Ben writes me many sweet notes, while Nat draws me eggs (his favourite shape right now)

Ben writes me many sweet notes, while Nat draws me eggs (his favourite shape right now)

My three-year-old and his 'ovals'

My three-year-old and his ‘ovals’

My coolest present ever: cards from my eldest son which I can use to redeem free hugs, kisses, hugs AND kisses, drawings, and check-this-out - free money!

My coolest present ever: cards from my eldest son which I can use to redeem free hugs, kisses, hugs AND kisses, drawings, and check-this-out – free money!

All this blog's PR Stuff Milestones and growing up Parenting 101 Product Reviews Reviews The Kao Kids

Oral freshness, thanks to Aquafresh (and Helicopter Mom, of course)

April 2, 2015

As a hands-on and unashamed helicopter mom, I micromanage 30 fingernails, 30 toenails and 3 sets of 20 baby teeth.

This is a job I am proud of. I never outsource the cleaning and maintenance of these body parts of my children (well, almost never) and I wouldn’t even let the Kao kids independently handle them, especially when it came to teeth.

Here’s the reason why.

Children begin teething around six months of age. Most people know these teeth as baby teeth. By the time they are 3, children have 20 baby teeth – 10 on the top and 10 on the bottom. These teeth are destined to fall out, and would some day mark the beginning of yet another milestone of growing up. And my job, as I have taken it upon myself as my children’s mother – like a mission of some sort – is to make sure that this destiny arrives to greet them as late as possible. In other words, no tooth fairy visits before 6 years old at least.

Here’s how I do it.

1. Impose a candy quota

I used to terrorise my children with horror stories of how every candy they put in their mouth can hide well around their teeth, and then plaque comes and have a heyday. Now that they are older, the stories don’t seem to work so well anymore. Or rather, the temptation of a lolly outweighs the fear of plaque attack. But because they have been rather well-trained to always ask Mom for permission, I still get some control over how much sweet stuff they ingest. My general rule-of-thumb: vitamin gummies in the morning after breakfast, something sweet if the day is going to get them outdoors and active, and none at all if we’re cooped up at home. Sugar high, no thanks.

2. Load up on the calcium

When I was younger and when I felt that my adult teeth felt a little off (like when something was strangely shaky or unsettled), I would go eat lots of cheese.  Surprisingly, that worked for me. When I became a mom, I made sure cheeses, yogurt and milk feature a lot in the kids’ diet. They love their cheeses, they love their dairies. Thank God.

3. Use age-appropriate toothpaste

Not every toothpaste is created equal; some more equal than others. I used to be quite alarmed at how disparate the prices of toothpaste can get. One tube could cost $2.50 while another in a similar size but different brand could cost $15. And then I found out that it’s all in the ingredients.

After being a micromanager of teeth for the past few years and reading up on the relevant literature and research that’s got to do with children’s teeth, this is what I follow:

0-2 NO flouride, thank you very much. The kids, when they were infants, had their teeth cleaned with tooth wipes. When they started standing at the sink at age one-half, the toothpaste had to be safe to swallow.

2-4 Flouride ok, but kid must be able to spit. Spitting is a skill to master and they had better master it first. Toothpaste must also be very gentle to teeth.

5 onwards Gentle toothpaste with flouride but if there’s more foaming action, it would be better as that helps to keep their breath fresh.

4. Change their toothbrushes regularly

This is something I make sure happens every 3-4 months. I check for frayed bristles and make sure that the toothbrush shape, size and bristles are age-appropriate. Cartoon characters are optional, but I try to get them something that gets them excited about brushing. Which means the toothbrush had to move with what was hot favourite of the day: Spiderman, Barbie, Disney Cars…

5. Let them brush all they want, and then I do it again (and sometimes my helper)

While I do teach my children how to brush their teeth and allow them to do it on their own, there’s never such a thing in the house as you brush, you go. It’s always, you brush, you stay there and wait for Mama or Aunty to come brush for you AGAIN.  Because have you seen my kids brush their teeth? It’s like done in two seconds most of the time.

***

Recently, the Kao kids got really excited about brushing and started doing it close to four times a day, after every meal.

The morning and night brush is supervised still (as I have always insisted), but something is motivating them to brush their teeth without any adult nagging or resistance.

Enter Aquafresh.

Aquafresh_Kao Kids_02

The “toothpaste with 3 stripes” has finally launched a brand new Aquafresh Kids range, catering to the oral care needs of children of different age groups  Thanks to the good folks at Aquafresh, the Kao kids received a new set of toothbrush and age-appropriate toothpaste, and quickly got to work testing them out.

I’m sure you can see their enthusiasm just by looking at those toothy grins.

Aquafresh_Kao Kids_01

Reviewer: Nat
Using: Aquafresh First Teeth baby toothpaste (3 – 24 mths) + Milk Teeth toothbrush (0-2 years)

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We’ve always been using this when the kids were babies, and I see now it has a new packaging. I hear this toothpaste has been out of stock globally a while back and is now finally back on shelves. It’s still apple-banana flavour and my cheeky son tells me it’s really nice jelly to swallow.

First Teeth Baby Toothpaste old packaging (Credit: Aquafresh)

First Teeth Baby Toothpaste old packaging (Credit: Aquafresh)

Aquafresh First Teeth baby toothpaste and Milk Teeth toothbrush are specially designed by dental experts to gently care for precious first teeth – just for 0 years to 2 years children. The First Teeth baby toothpaste is a toothpaste designed by dental experts to gently care for precious baby teeth and so help permanent teeth come through healthy and strong, and provides gentle cleaning with no abrasives, artificial colours or flavours. It is also fluoride-free so it is safe to swallow.

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Nat liked it for old times’ sake – I’m sure he remembers this toothpaste which he’s been using, but he is now three and after a few days of using First Teeth, he requested for something minty, like big boys should.

And can I say I absolutely love the shape of the Milk Teeth toothbrush? I know he’s 3 already and I need to graduate him soon but it is oh-so-easy to maneuver in the insides of his mouth with this.

Reviewer: Becks
Using: Aquafresh Little Teeth products (3 – 5 years)

Aquafresh_Kao Kids_07

This girl is complaining her tooth is a little shaky – which is totally making me panic (she’s not 5 yet!) – and so I am making her take her toothbrushing very seriously. I have ordered that she be off the bottle (she loves her Milo in her bottle!) and let’s hope Aquafresh can help repair some damage. Apparently, by this age, the enamel which is now thinner makes her teeth more vulnerable to decay. And if they aren’t cared for, permanent teeth may not come through healthy and strong.

Aquafresh Little Teeth products are specially designed by dental experts to encourage healthy brushing habits and protect precious first teeth – just for kids 3 years to 5 years. Aquafresh Little Teeth toothpaste is a gentle cleaning fluoride toothpaste with sugar acid protection to care for those precious first teeth and helps permanent teeth come through steadily.

Aquafresh_Kao Kids_08

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She says, I like my toothbrush, it’s nice to hold and turn. My toothpaste is a little bit spicy but I can handle. 

I say, it would be nice to have some fruity flavours. Not many kids this age can take mint exploding in their mouths!

Reviewer: Ben
Using: Aquafresh My Big Teeth products (6+ years)

Aquafresh_Kao Kids_11

He’s just turned 6 and is entering into big boy zone now with primary one looming ahead and two shaky teeth, one on top and another at the bottom. Our dentist commented during our recent visit that he has really well maintained teeth, which made me beam like a proud mother while he sat on the dentist chair. I was so going to whisper that that’s the benefit he reaps from his mother micromanaging every friggin’ details of his teeth and oral hygiene since the day he had teeth, but decided to let him take the glory. After all, he always does one good first round of brushing before the adult comes to do the second.

Aquafresh My Big Teeth products are specially designed by dental experts to protect mixed adult and baby teeth. Mixed adult and first teeth also create awkward gaps which are hard to clean, creating “plaque traps.”  The child’s new adult teeth may look big and strong but the enamel on new teeth is more vulnerable to decay for several years. Aquafresh’s My Big Teeth is a toothpaste with foaming action (and sugar acid protection!) to help it get around the mouth whilst actively targeting softer enamel to keep it strong.

Aquafresh_Kao Kids_12

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And it is this “yummy, minty, clean-feeling” in the words of my eldest that makes him want to use keep using his toothpaste. This boy has been finding many excuses to brush food bits away since he got acquainted with Aquafresh’s My Big Teeth toothpaste. Never seen a more enthusiastic boy when it comes to oral hygiene.

With these children’s enthusiasm in brushing and keeping teeth clean, a host of value-for-money, specially designed oral products, and a micromanager-mom, these 3 sets of teeth should remain cavity-free for a long, long time.

Smile!

Aquafresh_Kao Kids_16

And if you’d like to have a reason to smile too, hashtag #AquafreshKidsSG with a video or photo of your child brushing his/her teeth with any Aquafresh Kids products on your personal Facebook or Instagram page. 10 selected winners with the most number of LIKES (across Facebook or Instagram) will win a one year supply of Aquafresh Kids products. Contest runs from 1 March to 30 April 2015 (Terms & Conditions apply).

Final

If you have trouble getting your kids excited about toothbrushing, get your kids to check out this app by Aquafresh called Brush Time. The Aquafresh Nurdle shows kids how to brush their teeth using catchy tunes and fun-loving animations, plus rewards.

All Aquafresh products are available at leading supermarkets and pharmacy outlets. The App can be downloaded free from iTunes.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post which means that the products we received are sponsored, and my little reviewers will actually be making some money bringing you this. As our practice, we have reviewed the products in a manner as honestly as possible. All opinions here are our own.

P/S: I know the kids may have gone a little overboard with the excessive 4 times a day brushing, but they take their reviewing job very seriously.