All Posts By

MotherKao

(Self) Examination Motherkao loves...

This year, I will… support local, go sustainable and back social

January 4, 2018

Today I opened my eyes and the year is now 20-18. Amazing how time flies, and how quickly we lived through yet another 365 days.

As reflections are made of the outgoing year and resolutions for the incoming, most of us want to start the year right. I do a few things as a way of envisioning and setting the tone for how I want to live the next 365 days.

This year I want a lifestyle change with what I spend my money on and how I spend my money. This year, I want to shop with a conscience.

And it’s gotta be these three things for the consciousness in shopping: local, sustainable and social.

Increasingly, I am in the position of meeting and working with local businesses, social enterprises and people with businesses that promote sustainable living. So many of these people I’ve met in the course of entrepreneurship have inspired me to go slow, find out who makes my stuff, and where my money goes when I spend it, and for a while in 2017, I started looking out for local, social and sustainable businesses to support whenever I needed something new be it a a new bag, a new pair of shoes, or new clothes.

I want to continue doing that this year.

Last year, I had the privilege of being a part of a panel organised by DBS where I met a whole lot of social enterprises, all ready to take their businesses to the next level. What I realised then was that even though there were so many, and I mean MANY, social businesses out there that’s innovated something new, offering something different and even serving a very worthy cause fulfilling a real need out there, these businesses were not out there. Many people still don’t know who they are, and what they do.

A while ago, last year, sharing with social enterprises how to engage their consumers in the digital world with fellow panelists, Cheryl from Rock the Naked Truth and Beatrice from Klarra. I put on many hats that day – as a business owner of Trehaus and as mom blogger and target audience for many products ranging from kids and education to lifestyle and travel.

For social entrepreneurship, the ones who do have the visibility and also gotten the word out are really the ones who’s tapped on social media well, I must say. Many of them engage KOLs and audience-specific influencers, and then go on to fill their socials with beautiful visuals, captivating videos and purposeful content. They know their target audience well and understand how to position their cause to their advantage.

And most of all, they are authentic and believe wholly in what they do. I love that for all these businesses that are local, social and ethical, they are also truly passionate about their causes.

Here are some local, social and sustainable businesses which I love:

  1. Matter, a local brand I have grown to love for its cause and its championing of slow fashion in its own steady, quiet way.
  2. Coopita, a social enterprise and e-shop that preserves craftsmanship and showcases artisans from around the region. I recently bought a new tote bag weaved entirely out of upcycled plastic as part of the Coopita PLASTIC SWAP movement, and am loving the bag totally.
  3. The Missing Piece, where every piece is elegantly handmade and nothing is mass produced by a local mom of three.
  4. Twin Within, based locally but supporting single mothers through a peace organisation in the Philippines.
  5. Another Sole – love their shoes and the #buyonefeedone cause where part proceeds feed the hungry

There are so many other brands to love and support, and you can check them out here, and here. Hopefully, more of the social enterprises that participated in the panel discussion I participated can harness the powers of social media and get their stuff out there as more awareness is generated about the social cause.

In really comfortable #matterpants and my favourite plastic bag – this hugea** tote I am carrying is made of upcycled plastic and handwoven by artisans from Aarohana EcoSocial Developments who was recently represented by Coopita, one of my fave social enterprises in Singapore

~~~

This year, I will go slow, find out who makes my stuff, and continue to champion conscious and ethical living.

Share with me your favourite local and ethical brands, or social enterprises that you love!

Putting my best feet forward! With Another Sole 🙂

Disclosure: I was invited to share my thoughts about social enterpreneurship and social enterprises I love by DBS. All opinions here are my own.

All this blog's PR Stuff Family life as we know it The Kao Kids

Getting ’em organised and all ready for a new school year (ft. #ikeahacks)

December 25, 2017

[Sponsored – this post is IKEA-inspired]

When you have three kids and a really small living space, you got to make the space work very hard for you.

So when we moved into our new flat a few years ago, the bulk of the renovation cost went to carpentry. We fixed up a platform and bunker bed with six huge compartments under for the Kao kids’ toys, and then custom made their wardrobes and study desks.

The kids share one room in our current living space. At least from now till our next move.

With all custom-made things, it has been very difficult to get proper storage solutions to get organised. We can only admire but not buy organisers or beautiful trays like these:

From IKEA: SKUBB Box with compartments

RAGGISAR stackable tray from IKEA

So we very much end up with internal chaos like this…

Ben’s personal drawer – obviously he keeps photos he treasures safe in here, and Kidzos, pouches and knick knacks

this…

Becks’ drawer: of mozzie patches, card collections, hairbands and wigs and all sorts of bags and hair-ties

and this…

Nat’s drawer: the most chaotic of all. Clearly he loves his masks (Spidey & Bumblebee), inflatable globe,s tickers, sketch book, pencil case and toy spider too much as to keep them away from his siblings

 

My kids have an amazing to hoard, stuff and shove. I don’t know what’s in all their personal drawers but I don’t think the things stuffed all the way in there get any attention at all.

Drawers transformation

I can’t readily find a quick fix to get these drawers organised neatly because they are custom made to fit an existing wall space, but I am so glad I found these from IKEA such that I can put them in good use:

VARIERA Box: 24x17cm

VARIERA Box: 10x12cm

GESSAN Box: 10x10x10cm

GODMORGON Box with led: Set of 5

GLIS Box with lid: 34x21cm

I got a couple of these VARIERA boxes in the above two sizes in colours red, black and green, as well as a couple of GESSAN boxes plus 1 set of GODMORGON.

I also got one GLIS box to see if anyone would opt to use this to try to work their drawer space around.

The instructions for the kids were simple: empty your drawers, take as many of these boxes as they can fit into your drawers and fit them all in as neatly as you can. Then fill the boxes by deciding what you can fit in and what you wish to keep or throw.

This drawer-organisation project took half a day. And this was what the kids came up with:

I like it that these boxes from IKEA lets the kids still keep their drawer personalised but gives them a clear idea about how much space they have to keep their things organised.

Ben’s drawer transformed

Becks’ drawer transformed (love it that now her photoframe that has a picture of me & her plus Cinderella is now in sight!)

Nat’s drawer transformed

~~~

Study desk area transformation

On our last shopping trip at IKEA, Fatherkao was fascinated by this metallic knife rack:

GRUNDTAL Magnetic Knife Rack

I love my husband for the fact that he sees what I cannot see, does what I cannot do, and makes magic happen. This man singlehandedly removed all the random hooks and decals the kids pasted on their study area wall, wall-puttied and painted it to a smooth finish, then installed two of these magnetic racks (who says you can only use it for knives, LOL) – and at eye level somemore! – for the kids so that they could magnetically stick their notes and notices (every so often the school gives us notices which our fridge has no more space for) more systematically and neatly.

He even got the RIMFORSA tablet stands so the kids can use them for their iPads, spelling lists and reference books whenever they sit down at the desk.

I can’t believe this was all conceptualised and done within half a day by their very competent father. I love that their study space has gotten neater as compared to using blutack to stick on notes in the past.

Love it even more that the first reminder that Ben stuck on this new metallic rack was a reality check: school starts soon and it’s time to pack his bag. LOL.

Speaking of bags, they have also been organised neatly, thanks to these which we found at IKEA:

These FIRRA Boxes (we used them without the lids) are great for keeping the kids’ school bags and can be rolled out with their wheels. The plan is to have the kids put the bags in these boxes after school, and roll them out when it’s homework time, tuition time or pack-your-bag-for-the-next-day time.

 

~~~

In the spirit of getting organised, the kids also helped to think of ways for room improvement, and this was what they came up with, with their LEGO DUPLO blocks:

Love it that they have been inspired to look for solutions all around!

Truly, small things can make a big difference when it comes to getting organised, and I think the Kao kids are ready to start the year right, now that the mess they had once lived with is now put completely away.

~~~

Disclosure: This is the second of three in a series of collaborative work with IKEA. IKEA sponsored all the hacks we’ve used in this post. All ideas here are our own. #IKEASG#ad#sponsored#incollaborationwith #IKEA

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

Parenting at 8, 7 and 5 – Year-end reflections of a mother

December 24, 2017

The last time I reflected on a milestone of parenting was when the Kao kids were at age 5, 3-half and 2. I wrote about the exasperation and the growing pains and that new season of mothering where I had to be attuned to needs like potty training, mealtime routines, sleep training and weaning and the fact that I became conscious that I was the role model and chief influencer for three very young minds who needed to be taught values and guided in every way.

Well, all those are over, and yet again a new season of mothering is here.

These days, there is no baby nursing, no potty training to do, and no bums to clean. My kids can feed themselves, help with household chores, write me love notes and paint me beautiful pictures. They can also sing, dance and clown around for me – very much the reverse about three years ago where I was the one singing and dancing and clowning around to make them laugh and tickle them silly.

These days too, the eight-year-old dishes out advice on more occasions than not, telling me to sit up straight, eat my meals on time and come back early before bedtime.

These days, my seven-year-old can very much hold in her emotions, resist a tantrum and be taken in by reason and logic. She has a reservoir of emotions but unlike what she was like at 3-half with the crazy tantrums and hair-tearing, she draws, writes notes and paints them out.

These days, the baby in the family is baby no more. He is tall, dashing, super cheeky and full of humor. He can buddy up with bro anytime, and become best friends with his sister the next minute, and is an awesome team player who binds the siblings together. He helps Mama when her hands are full, he holds lift doors and orders his own food.

Oh gosh, how much they have grown.

Kao kids at Snow City, November 2017

What I hear these days isn’t the sound of whining, crying or babbling. What I hear these days at home are long conversations, silly banters and lots and lots of opinions and feelings flowing freely.

As I look back on these years my kids have grown and have become so close and dependent on one another, I am often glad for those years of “hardship” and the frazzled-ness I suffered doing these kids back to back without taking a break. My break is happening now, and while there are still needs to fulfill, I can now do a host of so many things, from pursuing entrepreneurship and taking nights out to learning a new language and getting couple- and me-time for my sanity.

And as I move forward to this new season where the needs are vastly different from a couple of years ago, I must remember to do well in these two things:

Find time to get to know each child one-to-one

Every pocket of time spent with each child has become so precious in having one-to-one conversations with each of them. The drive home with Ben on Wednesday night for English class, the bus ride with Nat every morning to school, the pedicure sessions with Becks once a month, running errands with whichever kid that wants to join me… — those times let me chit chat with them and get to know them better. They tell me what’s on their mind and things that are for my ears only.

More pockets of one-to-one time next year, we must find.

Find time to just watch and listen to them

I really sometimes have a lot to do. I’ll be honest: I can’t say no to screen time all the time myself. But I’d always make it a point to watch them for a while. Or listen in to some parts of their conversations. Just today, the three of them lay on my bed and sang Uptown Funk three times. It’s amazing how they have memorised the lyrics just by listening and I never knew that they loved this song to bits. I did whip out the phone to take a photo and some vids. But I watched them. And laughed at them. It was funny. I also love listening in to their squabbles and wait out how they would negotiate their way around each other’s demands and expectations.

And I need to do more watching and listening. Much much more in the days to come.

Bring it on 2018, I can’t get to know these kids more, and I can’t wait to relish this motherhood season.

 

All this blog's PR Stuff Everyday fun! Food, glorious food! Happy days The Kao Kids

This year’s Thanksgiving Dinner by the Kao kids’ (ft. kids-friendly recipes)

November 28, 2017

[Sponsored – this post is IKEA-inspired]

Now that the kids are older, I have every plan to work them hard. I mean, why not? They are bursting with so much creativity, so much energy, and so many ideas it would be such a waste if I don’t tap on all these while they are still willing.

So I told the kids that in November, they’ll have to cook up a Thanksgiving dinner for the family.

I was surprised there was absolutely no protest and zero whining. In fact, they were excited. They started talking about what they could do – should we make sunny side ups, Mama? shall we bake a big cake? maybe we can make some pasta? hmm, how about some cookies? ok,  let’s make chicken wings!

I had to source and tweak some recipes in order for a few things to happen: one, the family gets a complete meal; and two, the meal prep and work is something that an eight-year-old, a seven-year-old and a five-year-old can manage on his/her own individually.

I needed more tools in the kitchen to assist their meal prep, and so also we headed to IKEA to get some shopping done.

This was what we did. This was Thanksgiving dinner, prepped by the Kao Kids. #iamaproudmama

~~~

First to enter the kitchen last Saturday afternoon (which we dedicated as our very own Kao family’s Thanksgiving Day) was Becks. She loves to bake. She love treats. And she is all ready to make us an orange pound cake.

Chef Becks is pictured here in her best festive garb, the VINTER 2017 children’s apron, complete with a chef’s hat. Fits her to a tee, and gets her in the mood for baking. I think this girl takes after me – we both love to bake!

Before she started work, I laid out the ingredients and utensils she might need and did a run through of the steps and what she would be doing with what (equipment / utensils).  Becks is an auditory learner, and she functions better being told verbally what to expect. I followed this really easy recipe here from Del’s Cooking Twist and ran through the steps with her, all while pointing to the equipment and tools she would use:

First, the eggs and sugar that Mama’s prepared and measured go into the KitchenAid; second, the flour and baking powder will be sifted with the IDEALISK Flour Sifter; third, the butter needs to be melted in the saucepan; fourth, the orange needs to be juiced with the SPRITTA Citrus Squeezer,and lastly, the batter needs to mixed well and poured into the moulds on the baking tray to be popped into the oven.

Step 1: Eggs and sugar gets beaten well

Step 2: Sifting the flour & baking powder (actually just clicking away!) with IDEALISK

Steps 3 & 4: While the butter is slowly melting in the saucepan, use SPRITTA to squeeze juice out of one large orange

Step 5: Mix the batter well and pour into baking moulds – we used the BAKGLAD baking moulds to give us 2 cute foxes & 2 bears

Of course, Mama hovered around the kitchen as her assistant and preheated the oven, handled all electrical appliances (I helped with the melted butter, for sure!) and doubled up as sous chef when she needed me to. But these 5 steps were more than doable for this seven-year-old, and Becks was more than able to rise to the occasion in making four mini orange pound cakes for our Thanksgiving dinner.

In fact, [spoiler alert], they turned out so well, that a friend tried (she came by while we had dinner and sampled some) and wanted to order from Chef Becks so she could give away as gifts for Christmas.

~~~

Next to enter the kitchen was Ben, all ready to handle some protein.

I modified this recipe by Ina Garten, by tweaking some of the things to our liking (no thyme, 1 lemon instead of 4) and making it less daunting for Ben. Actually, to prep this dish, in my opinion was the easiest to do, just ’cause the chicken spends more time in the oven than anything else. But preparing this dish takes the most guts to do – as it requires massaging the cavity and every bit of the chicken – and so it was tasked to the oldest kid among my three.

You don’t see his disgusted look here, but he was basically squealing for the first minute of touching the chicken.

How cool is my eight-year-old chef in his TOPPKLOCKA apron and chef hat, touching protein for the first time in his life

After he became familiar with how cold and slimy the skin of the chicken and cavity felt, he was all ready to stuff and rub ’em all in. In went the garlic cloves and quartered lemon, some butter, salt and pepper.

And then the skin was rubbed with olive oil, salt and pepper before it was covered with streaky bacon rashers. He worked atop the KONCIS stainless steel roasting tin with grill rack, which contained the mess efficiently and let him pop the chicken straight into the preheated 220°C oven.

~~~

So there needed to be carbs for the dinner, and I decided to task the youngest for this. Doesn’t sound very easy for the youngest to be preparing the mains, but hey, the solution was pretty straightfoward. We would be skipping the pasta and mashed potatoes, and having all-day breakfast for dinner instead.

‘Cause this was the EASIEST recipe I could find for a five-year-old to do. And I thought: why not?

French toast for dinner, it is.

With this really easy recipe, you’ll pretty much get pretty carbs on a plate in three steps, and this was as easy as it gets for a fiver.

All you really need is a large stainless bowl and a whisk and uber large pie dish (the BLANDA BLANK 36-cm stainless steel bowl, VARDAGEN balloon whisk and VARDAGEN 32-cm pie dish are ideal for this task), some eggs, white bread, honey, salt and single cream and you’d churn out the staple in no time.

Of course, Nat had to be heavily guided by my verbal cues. He listened and worked as I instructed: whisk together the single cream, eggs, warmed honey (so it’s more loose liquid), salt, and then pour mixture into the pie dish.

When we were ready to eat, he dipped each slice of bread into the mixture in the pie dish and let the bread soak for 30 seconds on each side. As he removed each slice onto a rack and worked with more bread, I fired up a non-stick pan with butter and cooked each slice till golden brown.

Then we’d slot the slices of french toast into the oven for another 5 minutes for that perfect crunchy bite.

~~~

Would you please have a look at the finished products after about 5 hours of labour in the kitchen? The adults helped with the plating but look at these gorgeous browns, and bursts of colours!

Serving ware really do dress up the dish: the roasted chicken sits on a VARDAGEN oven dish, the french toasts were plated with raspberries, blueberries, strawberries drizzled with maple syrup on matt-glazed DINERA plates and the cakes rest on the festive VINTER 2017 side plates.

Thanksgiving dinner by kids, for the whole family.

We couldn’t wait to tuck in.

This Thanksgiving, our hearts and bellies were full.

On this cosy dining table for our family of five, I had food prepared by my kids for the first time ever. This Thanksgiving meal wasn’t just tasty. Every bite of what I ate melted every ounce of fiber in my heart.

And I gave thanks for that.

Disclosure: This is our first of three in a series of collaborative work with IKEA. IKEA sponsored all the bakeware, cookware, utensils and tools mentioned in this post. All ideas and creativity are our own. #IKEASG#ad#sponsored#incollaborationwith

(Self) Examination The real supermom

Hustling with heart and purpose

November 11, 2017

It’s been THREE months since my last blog entry.

I’ve been doing nothing but hustle, hustle, hustle.

Hustling to get things done, make things work, solve problems, manage crises.

Hustling is a huge part of my entrepreneur life; hustling gets the going going – look at marcom plans! do team reviews! take people out for one-on-ones! meet stakeholders! have conversations! engage the customers! solve the gaps in ___ (whatever that needs to go in the blanks)!

Hustling is the much needed momentum for mom life. Most of us know the drills: Thursday is tingxie for Child 2 and it’s Wednesday for Child 1, reading practice needs to be done before Monday for Child 3, spelling is on Tuesday for Child 2 and Wednesday for Child 1 (wait a minute – is it Monday?), Chinese tuition for all 3 children are on Tuesdays, end of year assessment happens in Term 4 Week 5 for Child 1 for Math and English and Term 4 Week 6 for Chinese but it’s also broken down into multiple occasions for assessment over Weeks 7 and 8 and …

blahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblah … …

And beyond the school stuff are the mom-i-need-an-erasable-pen-from-Popular + mom-my-school-shoes-can’t-fit-anymore + mom-there’s-a-play-date-i’m-invited-to + mom-i-need-to-get-my-bff-a-birthday-gift-it’s-his-birthday-tomorrow + mom-it-looks-like-i-have-cavities-see-how-many-stains-my-front-teeth-have + mom-I-lost-the-school-library-books-I-borrowed + mom-when-are-we-going-to-the-zoo-i-need-to-draw-a-picture-of-the-racoon-dog + mom-what-time-will-you-be-home-i-need-you-to-do-page-3-worksheet-with-me + the gazillion “mom-I…” requests.

Is it hard to have babies this big? Yes, it is. Small babies just exhaust you physically. Big babies – they drain the helluva you mentally.

For many years now, I have never stopped wondering why I would take the path of madness. When I stayed home with three kids aged 3, 2 and 1, I thought I was mad. When I started my first business while staying home with them, I thought I was mad. When I plunged even deeper into the depths of being a startup founder and entrepreneur, I thought this was it – I really must be mad. And amidst all these madness, life actually got madder with schedules and crises and offers and invitations which I say yes to.

I recently said yes to going back to my corest of competencies. I am even madder now: to be prepping lessons, designing curriculum and standing in classrooms again, amidst the beautiful chaos already present in my life.

Because I actually still want to make magic happen every day, as a mother, as an entrepreneur, as an educator.

It’s a mad world I live in but I am loving every minute of this madness. Because if I hustle with heart and purpose, I know it’ll take me somewhere.

Moms are the most amazing creatures when we hustle. We become super, and I am not at all embarrassed to declare that.

All this blog's PR Stuff Product Reviews The Kao Kids

Gentleness and goodness in a bottle [Review of Alobaby]

August 10, 2017

We’ve been taking something along with us for a while now, every time we head outdoors.

It’s easy to use (just spray!), comes completely DEET-free, and protects our skin from the sun (at SPF 15). It repels insects, is made from natural ingredients and is additive-, synthetic perfume- and colouring-FREE. It is also specifically created for delicate skin (that of a baby’s).

It’s a new brand on the block called ALOBABY.

And for sensitive skin like mine, and my kids’, we are so glad that a product so, so pure like this has finally been created. I was spraying it like crazy that weekend sitting around watching my kids swim. It was also subsequently on hiss mode covering my kids during their tennis practices and weekend pool fun times. My pet peeve has always been that most insect repellents and sunscreens give us an icki-ness I can’t stand, and usually if we want many things like hydration, protection from mozzie bites and prevention from sunburns, we have to slather a slew of separate products like how we marinate meat before we bbq them.

And because the Alobaby Outdoor Spray is so pure and natural, it really doesn’t matter how often we use it and for what we use it, we just ANYHOW spray also can  – it feels refreshing and is extremely effective.

They also have an extensive range of products from moisturising care and baby bottom cream to massaging oil and UV lotions.

There’s comfort and safety in natural ingredients, and it really doesn’t matter if my babies aren’t so anymore – products like these give me a peace of mind even then, for sure!

Good things must share, and we’re doing a GIVEAWAY, yay!

Alobaby is giving away 2 sets of the products of their UV & Outdoor Mist (retailing at SGD35) and Outdoor Spray (retailing at SGD25) to 2 Motherkao readers.

Just launch the Rafflecopter app here for a chance to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway ends 16 August 2017!

Disclosure: We share only what we love, and we’re loving our complimentary Outdoor Spray from Alobaby. All opinions here are our own and no monetary compensation was received for this post.

 

 

All this blog's PR Stuff Becks Kao Ben Kao Reviews

Making it personal this Teacher’s Day with Bright Star Kids

August 4, 2017

As a teacher, on that one very special day I am celebrated, thanked and honoured, I always loved the gifts that had a personal touch. Red pens are nice, chocolates are nice and flowers are definitely welcome but the students that prepared gifts with a little more thought – like a picture of me taken in secret (yes, I have had that – those sneaky people took pics of me in my most dramatic), or something with my name on it (like a personalised card or mug) – warmed my heart a tad more on Teacher’s Day.

Would so totally be nice if I got something like that for Teacher’s Day (source)

I confess: I haven’t been thinking like a teacher when it comes to gifts to buy for my children’s teachers for Teacher’s Day.

We have been giving chocolates and red pens.

So terrible, and lazy, I know.

I do tell my kids to make personalised cards but that really is about it.

This year, I resolve to be a little more thoughtful. The older two are in primary school now, and we have had the privilege of having two very caring form teachers in our kids’ school life. Ben has the same form teacher and Chinese teacher for two years now, because most P1 teachers follow their classes up to P2, and they have been awesome in nagging encouraging him with their positive affirming words to display exemplary conduct and demonstrate focus in his endeavours. Thank God for MORE people who would nag guide him like this.

Becks had a rough start to school mainly because we’ve discovered that she might have some learning difficulties that require remediation and intervention (I’ll share more in another post when I am ready), and her form teacher has been the most supportive and kindest person anyone can be to a lost 7-year-old who’s still transitioning from preschool to primary school. The local education system punishes late bloomers harshly (and I have no qualms saying this as an educator and mother of 3 who’s been born and bred in this system herself) and her teacher’s nurturing ways are a gentle reprieve from the cruel realities of KPIs and academic outcomes.

I digress. Point is: I’d better spend more thought to show my gratitude to my kids’ teachers this Teacher’s Day.

And so I did with Bright Star Kids. They do the most gorgeous personalised gifts from lunch bags and rompers to stickers and mugs, and I so had to ink my kids’ teachers’ names on these canvas totes bags that come with an inspiring quote to encourage them every day. Teachers carry a lot of things to class, from marked worksheets and resource guides to whiteboard markers and water bottles and these tote bags make a practical gift for any school teacher. Besides, if it’s forgotten and left at some corner of the school, it’ll be picked up and returned easily because the teacher’s name is on the bag.

Thoughtful enough, for sure!

And here you have it, my little girl parading with the bags customised for her teachers. Ben says he wouldn’t do anything cheesy like that, it’s already embarrassing enough I am making him bring the bags to school next month. Hurhurhur. My wimpy kid and his half grown up mind.

One for the form teacher

One for the Mother Tongue teacher

Imagining how her teacher will look when she gets it

Yea, probably a happier face would be more like it, girl!

More details:

Shop for customised gifts for your kids’s teachers here at Bright Star Kids (still got time!) and use the discount code ‘TEACHER’ to  check out. You get 30% off with that code for a $30 minimum spend on all gifts. Pretty good deal and impetus to start shopping and making your gifts more personal, this Teacher’s Day!

Disclosure: Bright Star Kids reached out to us probably already guessing what a lazy mom I have been and offered to sponsor my kids’ Teacher’s Day gifts for the purpose of this review. All opinions here on what I would love to get as a teacher are my own. But I think I speak for most teachers lah.

(Self) Examination Milestones and growing up The Kao Kids What to Expect... As a Mother

The sadness when you are done having babies

August 3, 2017

This always hits me around the months of August and September.

This time round it hit much earlier, and I have begun to feel this way by the end of July.

An overwhelming sense of sadness.

Recently I read this article and it described everything I’ve felt for two years now, usually at this time of the year – this time of the year when ALL birthdays are officially over. My boys celebrate their birthdays in February and Becks celebrates hers in July.

The first time I experienced this sadness was right after Nat’s third birthday. By then I already knew. I knew in my heart after he blew out his three candles, that I was really done with having babies, and that he would be my last.

My babies are officially no more and what I have in the brood right now is an 8-year-old, a 7-year-old and a 5-year-old who are smarter than me, sassier than me and stronger than me.

At least this is what they think, and what I let them think.

Life every day with them is filled with both frustration and fun. Depends on the perspective you wish to adopt, hurhurhur.

You listen in to a whole load of stuff; they talk about a whole load of stuff; and a whole ginormous load of stuff is learned and picked up and discussed and explored and thought about and squabbled over every friggin’ waking minute.

It’s exhilarating and exasperating at the same time.

Now that I am done having babies, this is my area to grow as their mother – to handle the exhilaration and exasperation all at the same time and to savour it all while at it.

To cherish them as they are growing up, to tune in and work out the patience bit every single waking moment.

Yet, I can’t help but to reminisce and cry sad tears every night looking at this…

And this…

And these…

And at the gazillion photos and videos of them as little beings (thank God for technology!).

Every night while they sleep, I’ll be scrolling the hundreds and hundreds of photos we’ve taken of them since 2009, watching old videos from the family cloud drive, and planting hundreds and hundreds of kisses on every sleeping child’s cheeks, and breaking down into a childish wreck squealing ‘my baby, my baby, my baby, you’re my baby’. I know, this mother has gone bonkers.

So much so that sometimes the kids tell me to get a hold of myself and pull myself together. ‘What’s wrong, Mum?’ they’d ask. ‘I am not a baby anymore’, they’ll declare in their waking moments.

Goodbye, babies. Hello, big little people.

All this blog's PR Stuff Motherkao loves... Reviews

The earth laughs in flowers, so did my team that day – ft. A Better Florist

July 25, 2017

Who wouldn’t like flowers when they come wrapped up nicely in a bunch and delivered to your doorstep? I don’t think there would be anyone who would protest.

Just look at these faces.

Meet my lovely team (one missing from the picture though) – the ones that I work with daily and the ones whom Trehaus depends on for everything to run smoothly.

The lovely gerbera bouquets were couriered by hand to these lovely ladies from A Better Florist.

These folks make it so easy to send love; all that was needed was an email, an address to send to, and a message on each card that read:

“May you be proud of the work you do, the person you are and the difference you make.”

And in a jiffy, the flowers arrived at the timing I wanted, for the people they were for. And I am so glad these blooms made their day!

If you’d like these blooms to make someone’s day too, use the discount code “MOTHERKAO20” when checking out on their website to get a 20% discount.

Disclosure: A Better Florist sent these flowers in exchange for this post; no monetary compensation was received. These folks believe that sending and receiving flowers should be easy, affordable and beautiful, and that every reason is the perfect reason to send out flowers. Well said!

Product Reviews

Spying with my ‘little’ eye – Fatherkao’s review of the D-Link DCS-936L HD wi-fi camera + a completely easy to set up guide

July 18, 2017
[Guest post – review by Fatherkao]

I’ve never thought of installing cameras at home. Until I got kids.

Suddenly, I was scrambling around looking for options, exploring the different types of CCTVs, Internet Protocol (IP) cameras and similar options at baby shows and IT shows and trying to memorize all the specifications as if they meant something. Truth be told, all those wonderful specifications of different cameras meant nothing because I did not understand a single thing. Who could tell the difference between a centralized IP and a decentralized IP camera system? Say what? I just needed something simple to set up and something that worked so I could check on my kids often.

In the end, I settled for a video baby monitor which gave me a limited range of a room in their early years. Towards their toddler years, a baby monitor was no longer good enough so a friend lent me his IP camera to try out but the setting up was really frustrating. Not to mention the available support for mobile apps was so limited. It was a total nightmare and I eventually gave up.

I was glad when the folks at D-Link sent us a D-Link DCS-936L HD wi-fi camera to review so I can see how much things have or have not changed since my last contact with an IP camera.

It changed my mind about IP cameras and I can now declare that technology has evolved!

Cameras are now getting better. The DCS-936L HD wi-fi camera has great features which users will appreciate and the best part is its quick and simple set up steps.

It’s also compact, sleek, extremely unobtrusive (not clunky or ugly) and very easy to position anywhere in the house.

The DSC-936L camera features a wide-angle lens which covers a 120° view angle (no panning required!) and the live 720p (1280 × 720) HD video during the day or night is sharp. The camera can be rotated to suit your preferred viewing angle and the video quality is excellent while the built-in microphone captures audio rather well.

I placed it just beside my fish tank to test out the audio and I could hear the faint burbling sounds of water quite clearly. Combined with the good live video quality, it was like those fish aquarium screensavers we used to have on our desktops! However, I do find the night vision mode overly sensitive on auto mode. You will also need to get used to the clicking sound every time it switches mode.

You can take great stills directly with mydlink phone app and store them on your phone or you can connect the camera to your D-Link network-attached storage (NAS) and store the stills and videos there. For me, I’m using both mydlink phone app and NAS.

There is also a MicroSD slot which can house a 128GB card. This means you can have up to 72 hours of continuous recording and much more based on where the camera is located. The camera features both motion and sound detection so you can always be assured of the responsive recording.

You can also adjust the sensitivity level for both motion and sound detection when the camera is set up.

The sound detection sensitivity level can be adjusted based on real-time information from the camera. This makes it very easy for users to adjust the detection level based on the ambient noise in the placed location.

For more technical specifications, you can refer to them here.

The box set comes with the camera, the power adaptor, 2 mounting screws, a Quick Installation guide and a Quick Install card.

The setting up of the camera caught me completely by surprise. It was so easy that I resisted the greatest impulse to run out and buy some more cameras to outfit my entire house. The Quick Install card is a must as it contains all the important information you will need to set up the camera. You will need to register a mydlink account using the mydlink Lite mobile app or on the mydlink website. Once you have successfully registered an account with mydlink, you can set up the camera with the following steps:

  1. Select “Remote” and not “Local”.
  2. Scan the QR code found in the Quick Install card after you click “Add a New Camera”.
  3. The app will locate the camera and a notification that the camera is connected will show at the bottom of the phone.
  4. Select the home wi-fi network for the camera to connect to. (I did not use the WPS function on the router as I was not sure what it would do.)
  5. Key in the camera wi-fi password found in the Quick Install card.
  6. It will then link the camera to your ‘mydlink’ account.

And it’s done.

Configure the camera to your heart’s content.

Fatherkao’s Verdict:

The D-Link DCS-936L HD wi-fi camera has certainly changed my mind about the ease of setting up an IP camera. The camera is packed with features and style which users would appreciate. And every noob would definitely love the plug and play features; you don’t have to know much technicalities to install one, for sure.

I have found this camera to be very reliable with no disconnectivity or over-heating issues and would definitely trust this little camera to spy on my children.

Disclosure: D-Link sent across this camera for the purpose of the review. All opinions here are our own, and we only share what we think, in utmost honesty!