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MotherKao

Nat Kao Thunderstorm days

Not so fab five

February 25, 2017

As if things can get any worse.

Becks was on the mend after the episode of the stomach flu and being in the hospital and life was pretty much back to normal again, or so I thought. This week we set out and about our usual business, and had grand plans of celebrating the boys’ birthdays.

Oh, yes before I forget… sidetrack.

I need to say a huge thank you to all of you who shared your suggestions with me on what we can do to help Becks with gaining some weight. I love the power of crowdsourcing and it’s amazing how things I never thought of trying are now officially on my list! From Pediasure (which we’ve tried to no effect, actually) and eggs (which the PD tells us to give) to ice cream, smoothies, durians and junk food (time to bring on the fries, burgers and nuggets??) on top of vegetable enzymes to help with nutrient absorption and multivitamins, I am so grateful I have more ideas now to feed the skinny one!

So, big THANK YOU, friends!

So back to (thinking that) life goes on as usual.

Nat’s 5th birthday fell on Monday and we were all up and about trying to nurse a sick Becks back to health and getting into the celebratory mood for birthdays. Birthdays are the legit excuse to skip school for any child, in my opinion, and so Nat was off school on Monday and both Fatherkao and I took time off work to spend the special day with him.

The baby that I last held in the delivery suite is now FIVE and that’s as big a number as any number is big to me on any of my child’s birthday.

And that’s worth a celebration.

Nat’s wish was simple. ‘I want to stay at home and play with my Pokemon figurines and eat cake with Mama, Dada, Becks, Ben and Aunty A.’

Which was what we did.

Blessed birthday, Nat!

Blessed birthday, Nat!

And then we headed to T3 to look at more Pokemons (we were super bummed Pokemon Cafe closed on the 19th of Feb!!!) and had the complimentary Firehouse (birthday) ice cream from Swensen’s along with dinner while we were there.

NatKao_turns5_02 - Copy

My baby boy turns 5!

And then it happened.

BOO.

I started feeling the chills after a shower on Nat’s birthday night and thought the wind was being harsh on my bones these days. I told the husband I would need to be curling up my old bones in bed early and went to sleep.

We all went to bed when Nat threw up in his sleep that night and I had both the runs and the throwing up simultaneously in the middle of the night, and that was the beginning of Murphy and his goddamn law doing its run in the house.

The rest, would be too slimy, greasy, watery and smelly to describe.

Suffice to say, the husband had to take leave to rush both Nat and me to the A&E by the next morning, and before I knew it, I was wheeled in and hooked up in the emergency with an IV drip and separated from Nat who had to wait a long wait at the paeds side before we reunited again 5 hours later in a B1 Ward at NUH.

At the triage, all I did was to not be able to give a urine specimen and I was wheeled and hooked up IMMEDIATELY. That bad.

At the triage, all I did was to not be able to give a urine specimen and I was wheeled and hooked up IMMEDIATELY. It was. that. bad.

The hospital had been so accommodating in going the extra mile to make sure that if we were both warded, we wouldn’t be apart, and I am so grateful for that.

And so for the next 3 days, the IV drip was all I had for breakfast, lunch, dinner. And Nat next to me for company. We were warded as a GE case – gastroenteritis, that is – and were instructed to report every single bowel and urinal movement and intake of water.

Worst birthday ever, for Nat, who was looking all sunken, glum and bones on his supposedly fabulous five.

Many hours ago, the peace sign and blowing out his candles. Now, a tired wreck needing rest.

Many hours ago, the peace sign and blowing out his candles. Now, a tired wreck needing rest.

Nonetheless, we were well taken care of by a team of wonderful nurses and doctors from Ward 9B; and in an otherwise not-so-fab situation, it could have been worse.

For this we are grateful.

And even more grateful for my awesome sister and mom, who despite knowing that both of had the stomach flu bug, hung around with TLC, homecooked porridge, and lots of good cheer.

We are back now and on the mend, and although it was a not-fabulous-at-all way to remember Nat turning five, it can only get better from here.

Well, at least he had his fill of TV, and 1oo Plus, in COPIOUS amounts.

Becks Kao Thunderstorm days

The mysterious case of losing weight

February 20, 2017

It’s been a really tough week on the home front.

I’m running on a full, almost 24/7 schedule of running the business – and just returned from Co-working Unconference Asia in Chiang Mai, when I received a few calls from unknown numbers on a Tuesday afternoon.

It was the primary school calling, telling me Becks threw up in class.

Ate something wrong, maybe. The girl’s been snacking like it’s the new diet as she discovers the awesome selections of the vending machine in school.

But to my horror after 14 hours from 12pm to 2am on that very day, she was still throwing up and not keeping anything down, and we knew we had to make that dreaded trip to the A&E at NUH.

Only to be discharged 4 hours later because she could at last keep a drink electrolytes down, and then – BUMMER! – to be admitted 7 hours after because she started complaining of stomach pains.

I missed my chatty, noisy, bossy girl: all quiet staring at the TV while the IV dripped on

I missed my chatty, noisy, bossy girl: all quiet staring at the TV while the IV dripped on

Nothing’s rougher than rough this week with the day she was warded being the roughest because — who gets any rest in the hospital?!

The toughest bit, actually, was being told by two doctors on two separate occasions  – one our PD, and the other her attending doc at the Children’s Ward – that her lack of weight gain was worrying them A LOT. She apparently only gained 1.5 kg over the last 3 years, or is it 1 kg over the last 2 years; but whatever it is, she is now skinny as bones, eating poorly and officially not growing well for the doctors to wave a red flag at our face.

And this puts us all in panic mode wondering what we could do.

I texted mom friends to ask for recommendations on supplements.

The husband started planning lunch box menus and *importantly* running the selections by the little girl. She brings the lunchbox for recess, but often has meltdowns when she sees what the helper has packed.

So far the buns, pasta and rice were hardly touched and even the helper is at a loss. So I found out she’s been only liking the muffins, grapes, tomatoes and Hello Panda.

We also started to like Tasty, Tasty Junior and Delish on Facebook to get ideas on what to make, so she puts in more in her mouth. Of course, we would need to wait for her to recover from the severe dehydration and low sugar count due to the horrible bout of stomach flu that gave the entire family zero rest this entire week, before we start our meal plans for her.

And I am now officially crowdsourcing for ideas, suggestions and recommendations. Please feel free to throw them my way.

Big thank you to all who saw my IG post and sent prayers our way. Of all things I covet most, I covet believers in Christ covering my children in prayer.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

Happy days

Happy Rooster Year!

February 9, 2017

Alright, no more monkeying around.

Time for a really cocky year.

This Year of Rooster marks my 3rd cycle of being a rooster, and I am wishing that this year, I will strut my stuff and be the best rooster in the Rooster Year.

Don’t want any cock ups.

Just wanna wear the rooster crown tall and proud.

May this year be one you will do the rooster strut and not cock up at all.

Happy Lunar New Year, or whatever that’s left of it!

CNY 2017 (5)

And this is how we 'bai nian'!

And this is how we ‘bai nian’!

Ben Kao Milestones and growing up

The reluctant specky boy

January 22, 2017

Both Ben and I were super bummed over the weekend.

By this:

BenKao_Eyecheckreport2017 (1)

BenKao_Eyecheckreport2017 (2)

MY FIRSTBORN NEEDS GLASSES!!!!!

I moped around for a while like it was the end of the world. And yep, you might have probably guessed it; I didn’t stop lecturing him about his posture, reading under poor lighting and all his terrible pussy habits like putting his head on the table while doing his work.

Just like what my mom did to me.

Yep, I gave it my all this weekend. I gave it ALL back.

I had worn glasses all my life since I was 7 and had lived half of it in total inconvenience of severe myopia and astigmatism until this five-letter word saved my life at the age of 28.

It was no fun at all, being a specky. I knew it. I hated being one. And I made sure Ben knew how horrible this might mean to his life.

And he was really disappointed too.

For him, it came like a huge unannounced tidal wave that swept him off shore while he was completely unaware. For the longest time, he was confident he wouldn’t need glasses. Till now, he still claims he sees well in class.

But why 6/18????

“I can’t see the last line of super tiny words lah! So so small!” was his reply, referring to the recent eye assessment at the health check in school

I am feeling a little helpless now and a little at a loss as to what to do. One school of thought tells me, go get his spectacles fixed as soon as he can before he squints his eyesight downhill. The other says, don’t be in a hurry to prescribe glasses for him. There are other things like hard contact lenses, eyes drops, TCM accupuncture and gardening to try.

For now I have yet to do anything – but how long can I wait it out before I find the right solution and / or the right school of thought to subscribe to?

Crowdsourcing for ideas here, on the blog, if you have any thoughts!

Till then, we are trying to get used to the fact that my specky boy would be looking like this:

BenKao_Clipons - Copy

Yes, this NERDY.

 

(Self) Examination Family life as we know it Getting all sentimental now Milestones and growing up The Kao Kids

New challenges, new resolutions, new year!

January 20, 2017

Twentyseventeen.

It’s a new year – and we’ve made it here. I am grateful.

I’m grateful that this year, I have – in my brood – bigger, older, more sensible children. Children that I can reason with, confide in, talk to.

Children whom I’ve never imagine to be growing this tall and talking this much, and coming this far with me in this motherhood journey.

Children who love me as I am, whom I know can watch me grow old and still hold on to me.

Children whom I love, as they are; and whom I know that I can watch grow up and hold on dear to.

KaoKids_Dec2016

Tis‘ so true the saying; that in parenthood the days are long but the years are short, and I now have a 8-year-old, a 7-year-old and a 5-year-old this year. Instead of diapers to change and tiny hands to hold, I find myself having to do so different things.

Like sitting on the swing at night with my firstborn, talking about his hopes and dreams.

Like reading the little notes my little girl leaves on my desk, filled with hearts and words spelling out, “I love you, Mama.”

Like having my littlest call me over the phone, asking me, “How was your day, Mom?”

These littles have grown up, and this year, I resolve to do three things.

I resolve to disconnect to connect.

I resolve to eat right and live life a little more balanced, so I can be a healthier, mindful mom for them.

I resolve to work a little harder at making their dreams come true – if that would mean being more efficient, more effective and more excellent.

What have you resolved to do this year? How is this year looking like for you?

I hope twentyseventeen would be a great one!

Everyday fun! Learning fun! The Kao Kids

Whenever, waiting (not a case against gadgets)

December 25, 2016

I am a mom on a mission to keep the smart phones and the iPads away from my kids as much as possible, as long as possible.

Especially while we’re waiting.

I don’t think you need to give a child an iPhone or an iPad so he sits quietly while everyone waits for food / eats a decent meal/  has adult conversation.

Have you tried the following?

Whenever you anticipate waiting time…

  • Do copious amounts of reading (this is for now, only something that appeals to my firstborn)…

reading_kaokids1

reading_kaokids2

  • Bring lots of scrap paper and colour pens/markers/pencils and invite your kids to draw away…

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drawing_kaokids2

  • Draw lots of randomness (you draw) and introduce some colouring therapy (the kids colour)…

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  • Buy activity books from book fairs / Bras Basah / Popular – I love those Preschooler Science booklets where the kids get to colour / circle / tick / cross out what floats / sinks / lives on land /grows in water / is used for home / made of plastic, etc because boy! do kids need to learn some common sense and general knowledge these days! These booklets are usually thin and easy to bring out…

activitybooks_kaokids1

Recently I had one of my readers share these with me which she so meticulously and painstakingly created, and I thought she deserves a big shoutout; they are amazing – pieces of paper so nicely designed and so much to read and learn, and so easy to pack in the bag to whip out while waiting.

Check out Jacqueline’s billingual activity packs: Exploring My Neighbourhood, Ji Fan (which is chicken rice in Chinese; that was what Ben learned when we were holed up in BKK for a while with his tennis training. He’s learned how to order chicken rice in Mandarin and read the words!), Knowing Singapore, Conversations with Grandma, and Where is it (a fun and useful pack to teach kids to describe things and places). Especially useful, and worth a mention, is this pack called ‘How Much Is It’ if you have a kindergartener going to Primary One who needs to learn the concept of money. This pack deserves another post altogether as I reaped so much benefits doing this with Becks.

activitypacks_kaokids2

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Some snippets of the 'Ji Fan' activity pack where you can even play a game of ordering!

Some snippets of the ‘Ji Fan’ activity pack where you can even play a game of ordering!

~~~

I usually separate the assessment books for learning and the activities my kids engage in while we are out. There’s a time for the former, and usually it’s a specific carved out time to be focused for academic learning (so the habits instilled are very different from the latter). The latter (activity packs whenever we anticipate waiting time, that is) usually centres around doing lighthearted and fun things which involves largely incidental learning.

Before you throw stones at me – I do let the kids watch the TV and sometimes pass them the phone to check out apps – if books and activity packs are not so readily available. The educational apps are designed and created for the reason of keeping children engaged, and the key is always negotiating a start and end time.

We were recently introduced to the Nickelodeon PLAY app by the folks from Nickelodeon, and I found that negotiating the start/end time for a quick thrill in playing games work for my boys who are increasingly curious about ALL things games – anything that involves racing, fighting or moving virtually gets them super excited these days.

So once in a while, the kids get to check out TMNT and Game shakers games on the app, and play Crossy Road on their father’s iPad…

nickelodeonplay1

nickelodeonplay2

And you’ll see children huddling and hovering over a device like this for a while.

gadget_kaokids

And that’s how we handle the whenever-waiting-opportunities at 7, 6 and 4 years of age.

All this blog's PR Stuff Reviews

Zap the fats and the double chin with LPG at Aura & Miracles [Review]

December 10, 2016

After three kids, I am resigned to the fact that I have to live with orange peels on my thighs and a flabby tummy that makes me look like I am four months preggers perpetually.

Well, in fact, after three kids, I now have issues I never used to have, which has everything to do with elasticity down south but that’s for another post on another occasion altogether. Suffice to say, I’ve paid many visits to my piles doctor this year.

For the record, I don’t hate my body – pushing three kids out is what I am proud to have done – but I do wish it could look better on some days and not having to feel like a truck’s ran over it and back.

So when my friend, Mummy Ed, shared with me how lipomassage worked for her when we met for coffee some time ago, I couldn’t wait to try it.

I’ll take anything non-invasive anytime, so this is perfect.

So to Aura & Miracles I went, hoping to find a miracle for the orange peeled skin and stubborn fats to melt into nothingness and disappear. I know nothing can replace diet and exercise but I really wouldn’t mind indulging in a quick fix or two once in a while. Some stubborn fats melting away is better than none.

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Aura & Miracles – how apt the name: look for Sherry or Pearl and they will show you some magic with the LPG

And there I was introduced to the LPG technology, via this ginormous machine that could so many wonderful things. Here are 3:

the-giant-rabbit

This looks like a giant rabbit to me!

1. Induce lipolysis – so it does melt the fats like butter somewhat! The roller technology targets the areas for fat burning and breaks the fats and other lipids by hydrolysis.

2.  Give you 10 hours equivalent of physical exercise – 30 minutes of lying there is equivalent to 10 hours of hard core cross training, minus the cardio bit, of course, but that’s the effect.

3. Improve blood circulation and lymphatic drainage, and smooth cellulite

Well, apparently LPG is the world leader in patented innovation when it comes to the treatment of connective tissues for therapeutic, beauty and medical applications. This treatment is also quite commonly used for sports therapy.

While I was assured I was in safe hands due to the brilliance and track record of this technology, I couldn’t wait to see what effect it has on me. The thought of #1, #2 and #3 happening sounds awesome already.

Melt, fat, melt!

So I got into a body suit, laid flat for about 35 minutes and had the LIPOMASSAGE BY ENDERMOLOGIE® pinch, suck and roll my fats around. Some parts were awfully painful (I was told by Pearl, my therapist, that the fats must have been too stubborn there) and some parts gave me the good kind of pain, like what a good deep tissue massage does. As it was my first, I was told that it would get better with every subsequent session and that would be a sign that the fat cells are getting smaller.

Yep, something like that (sorry no picture of me in a body suit that you can see) except I was flat out trying to catch some sleep

Yep, something like that (sorry no picture of me in a body suit that you can see) except I was flat out trying to catch some sleep.

Watch this video for the scientific bits of how the fats actually get broken down with this ‘giant bunny’: https://youtu.be/e7dsppIa4FQ

I was also told that I won’t drop dress sizes immediately or walk out looking like 36-24-36, so there, I had my expectations adjusted right away.

This is the area on my thigh I have the most orange peels. Nope, not going to show how they look but suffice to say, some lines out of many many lines were smoothened. So I assume they are gone?

This is the area on my thigh I have the most orange peels. I’m embarrassed to put out my peels on my very public blog but suffice to say, some lines out of many many lines were smoothened after one session.

But what I could really expect out of even a first treatment was to immediately see the water retention in my body gone, feel some smoothening on the cellulite-inflicted areas of my body and have a really good night’s rest after the treatment. Like a deep tissue massage, the lipomassage uses the technology to mechanically stimulate each cell for rejuvenation.

I don’t have awesome before and after photos to show for (sorry, not a pro beauty blogger here, and also too tired after work and massage to pose like I’m a 36-24-36), but this is what I have:

before-and-after_lipomassage_arms

Clearly the top is “before” and the bottom is “after” and you can see much of the flabbiness on my left side being pinched away just after one session.

And what I did have was a really good sleep that night (and the other night I did my 2nd treatment) and many days of feeling lighter and less flabbier. The arm is more toned, that’s for sure.

I also went back after two lipomassage sessions to try the EndermoLift™ by Endermologie® which was like a mini lipomassage for the face. The treatment apparently helps to revitalize dull, tired looking skin, reduce signs of wrinkles and stimulate collagen production. At the same time, it enhances facial metabolism, detoxifies and prepares skin for natural absorption of enriching serum and ampoules. This relaxing treatment unblocks facial lymph nodes, promotes skin renewal and enhances blood circulation.

This is how your double chins and fine lines are pinched away and your cells are rejuvenated

This is how your double chins and fine lines are pinched away and your cells are rejuvenated

It’s like a smaller version of the lipomassage technology pinching your face and neck everywhere, rolling, and sucking as it goes along every contour.

I caught a selfie of my very tired self on the left (in the dark, no less) just before the treatment and there - can you see the double chin? The one on the right is after one session of Endermolift and it's considerably more contoured

I caught a selfie of my very tired self on the left (in the dark, no less) just before the treatment and there – can you see the double chin? The one on the right is after one session of Endermolift and it’s considerably more contoured

Melt, double chin, melt.

If you’re looking for a wellness centre to experience the LPG technology and non-invasive treatments like Endermolift and Lipomassage, Aura & Miracles is the place to visit (402 Orchard Road, Delfi Orchard, #05-13 Singapore 238876 | Tel: 6333 8707).

The therapists are well trained in the LPG technology, and know exactly how to manoeuvre it to target specific areas of fats and cellulite that are exercise-resistant and diet-resistant (yep, apparently some fat cells are such!). They also provide you with a comprehensive assessment of your body and educate you about the technology before commencing treatment, something I appreciate very much.

And just for Motherkao readers, Aura & Miracles has kindly extended a special offer for anyone interested to trial the technology!

Quote “Motherkao” or “Elizabeth from Motherkao Blog” and try any treatment for SGD 68 (U.P $88) for the first time.

  • If you wish to take up a package for the lipomassage to do it regularly, you can get a 10% off the package price of $2500 and enjoy two additional complimentary sessions (total 12 sessions).
  • If you’d like to take up a package for Endermolift face treatment, you can get a 10% off the package price of $2000 and enjoy two additional complimentary sessions (total 12 sessions)

Disclosure: I was invited by Aura & Miracles to try out 2 lipomassage sessions and 1 Endermolift face treatment for the purpose of this review. All opinions, as well as the actual outcomes here are my own. It will differ from yours because your body is yours and my body is mine. Simple logic, I know, but please don’t hold me responsible for any outcomes, intended or unintended. You should just go try out one session for yourself! and who knows – your fats may melt faster than mine! Good luck!

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

Safari Zoo Run 2017: 3 more days to sign up + discount code to do so!

December 6, 2016

We’ve always loved the zoo, zoo, zoo; how about you, you, you?

You can love it too, too, too.

Let’s all love the zoo, zoo, zoo.

Sorry, can’t help myself doing a little boogie dance here when I think about my family’s love affair with the Singapore Zoo.

Did you know that our award-winning Singapore Zoo is something all of us can be proud of? I’m proud of the fact that it is committed to wildlife conservation and conservation research, and that every cent I spend there goes to supporting the efforts to keep the conservation spirit going.

The Safari Zoo Run was conceived to commemorate Singapore Zoo’s famous matriarch and one of Singapore’s most loved animal personalities — Ah Meng the Sumatran orangutan, who died of old age in February 2008, as well as to encourage family bonding, and next year’s Zoo Run is going to get more exciting with the theme “Run for Wildlife”, focusing on raising awareness for wildlife conservation.

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The Zoo Run will feature 4 animal icons in the form of Team ‘Ah Meng the Orangutan’, Team ‘Chawang the Asian Elephant’, Team ‘Canola the Manatee’ and Team ‘Sunny the Hornbill’. You’ll get to do your part for wildlife by choosing an animal team to support and help raise awareness for them.

Join a team and run for wildlife today – because we’ll certainly be doing likewise like we did this year, probably in the non-competitive category! I very much anticipate the Kao kids wanting Team Canola bad (hurhurhur, manatees cutiesssss!) but I may be wrong (I haven’t told the kids yet!).

We’ll be revealing our animal team at next year’s run, so see you on 18 February 2017!

More details

Run for Wildlife Safari Zoo Run is happening next year on 18 Feb 2017 (Saturday) – get more details on race categories, fees and age limits for kids here.

The Early Bird Rate for registration ends on 9 Dec (2359 hours), and the organisers tell me that they’re giving a unique discount code to enjoy 10% off prevailing rates when you register from now till 15 Jan 2017.

Use SZR2017BGPMOTHERKAO10 when you register to get your discount!

Food, glorious food! Holidays! Milestones and growing up Motherkao loves... The Kao Kids

5 things to do with kids, the ‘chill-and-live-like-a-local’ version

December 5, 2016

We’re having the luxury of time here in Bangkok living like (and with) the locals for the second time now. The last time we did this was last year where we lived at The Hub Residence at Ramkhamhaeng and walked daily to the tennis court 5 minutes away so that Ben could get his intensive training in the mornings.

This year, we’re doing the same. Except that we’re not at The Hub this time due to their new minimum 6-months rental policy. We’ve found decent and simple lodging nearer the beginning of Soi 4, and are super stoked we’re just next to a 7-11 and literally a minute’s walk away from the glorious street food prepared and cooked by the same locals who could still remember us from last year.

The kids pretty much delve right into being at home in BKK and know the drill well – no balking at street food (the locals here take pride in what they prepare), say thank you and hello with palms pressed together in a slight bow, smile whenever things get lost in translation and speak in English slowly, and watch out for cars before they cross even the tiniest of alleys.

When in BKK living at the outskirts beyond the tourist façade of malls and high rise, here are 5 things to do to experience life as a local. Or at least, here’s 5 things we have done.

Go ahead and try it; the experience might surprise you.

1. Be ferried down the soi, the local-way

Right in front where we live, there’s a hut with parked motorcycles on the left that ferries people from place to place and pedal carts queued up to take groups of people down alleyways (with seats enough for 6 and pedalled by a local) on the right. Hop on to a pedal cart for 5 baht or onto a motorbike for less than 30, and you can get ferried from one end of the alley to the other (or beyond, perhaps!) without having to walk!

Definitely an experience for the kids on a pedal cart and a luxury for those whose legs are aching from walking too much!

Getting a ride on the pedal cart

Getting a ride on the pedal cart: the uncle pedals hard all day to get people from Point A to B

2. Play old school video games at arcades/shopping mall

A 10-baht coin slotted into any arcarde game machine is great mileage. It lasts for 15 minutes. Put 4 in and you get an hour of rest while your boys expend their energies.

Totally worth it.

Game: 40 cents Brotherly bonding: priceless

Game: 40 cents
Brotherly bonding: priceless

My father taught me how to drive

My father taught me how to drive

At the arcades in the city centre, the games are double the price (20 baht for a race car cheap thrill) but still, they are great ways to hang out with the locals or hang out like the locals. Many of the local school kids are there dancing their para-para-dance and might even challenge you in a bike or car race.

3. Explore community malls

We checked out The Commons at Thonglor and frequently go to The Mall at Ramkhanhaeng, and The Nine. These are awesome community and neighbourhood malls to be in to watch the world go by. You can sit at cafes, eat lots of crepe cakes, pretzels and donuts, and take lots of pictures. Best part is, everything where we stay (in the area of Ramkhahaeng) is almost ten times cheaper than anything in the Greater Metropolis like Siam.

The Commons has an entire storey for kids that allows for free play (if you get food and drinks) and facilitated play (200 baht for the 1st hour); methinks this is great if you want to just chill out but your kids are raring to go. I hear they also run holiday camps like crafting and cooking. They also organise block parties where you can hang out and participate in community-building activities, similar to our RC and CC activities back home.

The Commons at Thonglor, the latest community mall in Bangkok

The Commons at Thonglor, the latest community mall in Bangkok

It's not a huge mall at all; merely a space for people to hang out, but there are interesting things around

It’s not a huge mall at all; merely a space for people to hang out, but there are interesting things around

Like these giant fans to cool the space

Like these giant fans to cool the space

And lots of space and stairs to monkey around

And lots of space and stairs to monkey around

The Kids Common is where kids can have fun

The Kids Common is where kids can have fun

And where play matters

And where play matters

Driving around in a cloth bus and using all our imagination

Driving around in a cloth bus and using all our imagination

The top yard has lots of space to chill out and a herb garden to explore

The top yard has lots of space to chill out and a herb garden to explore

Lego fun at Kids Common

Lego fun at Kids Commons

Play area that's chargeable because kids get to craft under supervision

Play area that’s chargeable because kids get to craft under supervision

4. Do as the locals do + watch Thai tv for cultural immersion

December marks the beginning of mourning for the Thai people who are grieving the passing of their late king. And every now and then the tv zones out from its regular programming and broadcasts funeral rites and rituals happening live at the Grand Palace. What a great way to be immersed in the history and culture of of a country through tv broadcasts, in a time like this.

Beyond that, my kids would sit in front of the tv to watch Boomerang and cartoons in Thai. Even if they have no idea what’s being said, the constant listening in gives them the immersion I’ve always hoped they would get. They can say some simple words in Thai, which is not bad for a start!

When we head to the malls, we also take the time to walk around the various exhibitions and appreciate the many artwork and installations in memory and honour of the late Thai king. We left flowers where they were freely available for anyone who wished to pay their respect and stood in silence to watch the many videos the malls were playing.

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One of the many picture exhibition happening right now at the walkway between MBK and Siam Discovery

One of the many picture exhibition happening right now (time of writing: Dec 2016) at the walkway between MBK and Siam Discovery

Taking a moment to watch a video of celebrating King Bhumibol's life

Taking a moment to watch a video celebrating King Bhumibol’s life

The pictures even have QR codes to scan so you can download it for keeps

The pictures even have QR codes to scan so you can download it for keeps

This art installation by a local artist features some form of kinetic energy to light up a rendition of lights making up the face of the late king

This art installation by a local artist features some form of kinetic energy to light up a rendition of lights making up the face of the late king

Step on the platform, and this comes out - how brilliant!

Step on the platform, and this comes out – how brilliant!

This installation features lots of heart-shaped people as a reminder to show love and compassion to people around you and the less fortunate (it's even some form of a charity drive!) because that's how they'd like to remember King Bhumibol

This installation features lots of heart-shaped people (and free “hugs”!) as a reminder to show love and compassion to people around you and the less fortunate (it’s even some form of a charity drive!) because that’s how they’d like to remember King Bhumibol. That’s really also what he exemplified in his life.

The kids got to learn a little more about King Bhumibol’s significance in Thai society and history, and it was, in my opinion, an honour to mourn together with the people. We also tried as much as possible to wear dark colours every day.

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Leaving a special flower as a mark of respect at the atrium of Siam Paragon

5. Savour the sights and smells of street food

Nobody really cooks at home, I hear. The locals settle their breakfast, lunch and dinner at the roadside street stalls and that pretty much is their way of life.

Our rule-of-thumb for street food: food must be cooked in high heat (which means we don’t really patronise the carts that sell fruits or som tum).

We love it that we get to try everything from fried dough fritters and pork porridge to beef noodles, phad thai, wanton noodles and chicken soup right at our door step. Not to mention the freshly made Thai tea and local desserts from flavoured soy milk to coconut pancakes at such an affordable price.

The locals who make a living selling street food are a hardworking bunch who never fail to tirelessly show up to cook – every single day, including Sundays and public holidays – and we have so much respect for them; we love to stand around to watch them prepare the food we want to tabao back.

They have so much pride in what they do.

This was such a godsend: I'm hacking away with this awful cough and the porridge every morning with so much ginger and spring onions and flavourful meat balls is so much comfort

This was such a godsend: I’m hacking away with this awful cough and this porridge is what I have every morning with generous slices of ginger and spring onions and flavourful meat balls is so much comfort. I’m so regular that the stall owner just knows what to do when she sees me.

How comforting

How comforting

Dough fritters for 20 baht

7 dough fritters for 20 baht which is old school youcharkway, except that it’s pop-in-your-mouth-bite-size!

Having a feast after tennis, and it's only 9 in the morning!

Having a feast after tennis, and it’s only 9 in the morning! Ben is having pad thai freshly made and the rest of us had pork soup (fatherkao), porridge (Becks and me) and some sort of coconut and yam kueh (Nat & helper)

This.

This is the best part of being in Thailand. There’s nothing not to love, and we’re enjoying every day we’re here living like we’re one of them.

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

It’s the smell of breakfast and more with ‘A Helping Hand’

December 4, 2016

Ever since this came along, my children have stopped eating corn flakes and cereal for breakfast.

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‘A Helping Hand’ by Frog Michaels: read how this came about here

Thanks to A Helping Hand by Frog Michaels, my helper has been churning out pancakes and variations of egg dishes for the kids, in addition to making bread and buns for the whole family since two weeks ago when the cookbook arrived.

My kids are eating better, thanks to this.

At least we no longer hear ‘Huh? Cornflakes again?’!  

A stack of fluffy pancakes for breakfast for the kids by Helper A, thanks to the cookbook

A stack of fluffy pancakes for breakfast for the kids by Helper A, thanks to the cookbook!

This was sent to me in Helper's A excitement to share she made poached eggs

This was sent to me in Helper’s A excitement to tell me she made poached eggs one of the mornings I wasn’t around. She tried many more recipes but I barely got to take any pictures because by the time we remember to take photos, the food’s all gone!

I think having a cookbook in Tagalog is such an awesome idea.

Like how awesome this is with the Tagalog side by side the English one

Like how awesome this is with the Tagalog side by side the English one

I think having 86 recipes for Western and Asian cuisine for my helper written and printed in her native language is an even awesomer idea.

I’ve personally told my helper that the possibilities are now endless in terms of what she can whip up, instead of sticking to the staples she always prepares, like pasta and fried rice. She can now be a pro in the kitchen effortlessly from this point forward.

This book is everything I wish she could cook.

A Helping Hand is Singapore’s only cookbook written in English and Tagalog and is designed to help employers and helpers alike churn out tasty, balanced and healthy meals for the family.

Beyond that, it succeeds in being more than just a cookbook: it’s a book that helps relationships between families and their domestic helpers; gives helpers the tools they need in order to feel confident in the kitchen and the information they need in order to purchase ingredients to put a meal together; and helps helpers understand descriptive cooking phrases like ‘beat’, ‘bake blind’, ‘braise’ and ‘blanch’ that would otherwise get lost in translation.

The best part of it all is that for every book sold, a donation goes to Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics (H.O.M.E.) – a Singapore charity and society dedicated to upholding the rights of migrant workers.

Makes an awesome gift to your domestic helper – if yours is from the Philippines – this Christmas!

More details:

A Helping Hand helps get honest, classic, uncomplicated European and Asia dishes onto your table with minimum fuss and effort on your part. Get A Helping Hand from the various stockists in Singapore or online at a special price of SGD 39.90. We hear a Bahasa version is in the pipeline too. Akan datang!

Disclosure: Frog Michaels has very kindly gifted her cookbook to my trusty helper, A. No monetary compensation was received and all opinions here are my own. Helper A thinks ‘A Helping Hand’ has made her more confident in the kitchen and she is immensely grateful!