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Ben Kao Milestones and growing up Reviews

Going the Ortho-K way (Part I)

April 5, 2017

So I last posted in January that I was super bummed that myopia and astigmatism had finally hit my firstborn (ugh, sneaky thing), which started me on my quest to gather research about childhood myopia and how to control it.

There’s tons of literature out there about myopia being acquired and/or inherited and most research shows that it’s a combination of both genes and environmental factors that lead to bad eyesight. And if genes has a part to blame, then I am indeed worried. Because growing up, I had severe myopia and astigmatism. The type that inconveniences your life. Like not being able to even see your toes when you shower. And the last thing I want to witness in my kid is him going through the anguish I did: my myopia and astigmatism rose rapidly every half a year starting from age 7 and there was nothing I could do to stop it from deteriorating. And with every passing year, I would be in spectacles half an inch thicker than before, and this was the narrative of my sad story of the long drawn battle against myopia from age 7 all the way to age 23.

Which sucked. Big time.

Anyway. With this excruciatingly crappy experience with poor eyesight (until the beautiful five-letter word made my world), I was determined NOT to let it hinder the joys of growing up for Ben. Imagine being knock out of your glasses in a ball game, losing your spectacles when your canoe overturns, and having someone step on your glasses, breaking it so bad you got to tape your specs and wear them to school to the amusement of all your classmates, AND the worst of all, being chosen as a flower girl and having to put on those horrible looking speckys and having the photographs of you looking like NERD stick in your head for forever – those were terrible growing up years having to live and depend on spectacles.

Which then led me to my research on Ortho-K.

Which also made me scream at my mom (I am, unfortunately, 29 years late) when I found out that this could have and would have been my way to seeing better as a child.

Mom, if you had taken a stab with this then, I would really have been much better off and not be as blind as a bat. Even my dreams were blurry growing up. Just sayin’.

Orthokeratology, or Ortho-k, is the fitting of specially designed gas permeable contact lenses that one wears to sleep overnight. While you are asleep, the lenses gently reshape the front surface of your eye (cornea) so you can see clearly the following day after you remove the lenses when you wake up.

This article calls it ‘braces for the eyes‘.

I wasn’t sure if it was an option for Ben who loves to rub his eyes and if it would be a huge hassle at waking time for a child who gets ready for the school bus with his eyes closed all in 5 minutes. Until I spoke with three of my cousins who were on it for close to 20 years now, and found out how it has liberated them, made life convenient for them and kept their myopia under control all these years. Nothing deteriorated since the day they put on their first pair of Ortho-K lenses to sleep, and in fact they could now (as young adults) go for 4-5 days without it before power came back.

Sounds like something I want Ben to go through.

I was recommended to both Issacs-Optom (one of the pioneers in Ortho-K, here in Singapore – this is also where my cousins go) and AeroV, the latter being highly recommended by Mumseword whose kid is also on Ortho-K lenses. I was assured that Brian from AeroV would really make sure everything – from custom fitting to checking and following up – would be done smoothly, and so we’ve been there for two appointments already.

 

Eye examination to assess for clarity of sight

Eye examination to assess for clarity of sight

Getting his power determined

Getting his power determined

His eye was a little swollen due to rubbing, so we had to go back again. That's the reason why we had two checks.

His eye was a little swollen due to rubbing that day, so we had to go back again. That’s the reason why we had two checks.

Ben_OrthoK_AeroV (3) - Copy

Measuring his cornea

Checking the health of his cornea

Checking the health of his cornea

Ben’s Ortho-K lenses has been ordered last night, and it was like a stone off my chest.

I can breathe now, because the checks have been done twice and custom fitting for the lenses was checked and double checked, and all that’s left to do is to introduce a new sleep time and wake time routine when the lenses arrive and he is pretty much set to get his myopia corrected AND controlled at the same time.

Of course, the hole in the pocket is bigger than if he were just to make glasses but we’re certain that this is really what we want for him: a spectacle-free childhood, and the freedom to see without hassle.

(Self) Examination Happy days

Counting my blessings

April 4, 2017

Dear Lord,

What was on your mind when you gave me these?

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These very beautiful little people. And this wonderful person who chose to marry me.

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You must be thinking of how blessed, how loved, and how happy I would be.

With these people in my life.

For 36 years of life. For having these people in it. And for everything You have given.

Birthday Cake_MotherkaoApr2017 - Copy

My heart is full.

And filled with gratitude.

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

Getting good light wherever – Review of 3M’s LED P1610 Polarizing Task Light

March 11, 2017

Do you have this problem? You get the kids a study table and then they draw and do their work everywhere else EXCEPT at their study table.

And then you go on and custom make a pretty study area with some personalisation here and there for each kid and they continue do their everything – drawing, reading, writing – everywhere EXCEPT there.

And the study area you’ve painstakingly designed and built, with all the good lighting and proper seating, becomes just another place to dump all kinds of things.

True story.

I’ve given up on asking my kids to sit at their desks to do their work. Over the years it has been just too daunting to nag them to go there – sit down – do work. 

So I stopped, and I invited them to consider different parts of the home to do their work or to read a book. It could be at the dining table, on the floor, on the beanbag and even on the master bed, which they love to hang out at.

But I always had one serious problem: lighting.

Whenever they are everywhere, it always feels like they are casting shadows over what they are looking at.

I need a solution and I am so glad to have found it.

Enter 3M’s latest colour-change polarizing lamp, the LED P1610 Polarizing Task Light.

LED P1610 Polarizing Task Light - Copy

It’s everything I need for my kids to make everywhere a work and reading space – it’s cord is long enough to bring from where it’s plugged to where they are and it’s fully adjustable and rotational.

Best of all, the LED P1610 Polarizing Task Light is adaptable enough to function in any space at any time of the day (not just at a desk, but when the kid is on the floor, seated on the sofa, wherever!) and allows you to customize the light colour via a touch control. Offering 5 colour selections – cool white to warm white – users can adjust the colour of the lamp according to the time of day, or their mood levels.

Which means you can switch the colour of the lamp to a ‘Cool White’ in the mornings for increased alertness and change it to a ‘Warm White’ when winding down for the day.

In addition, the LED P1610 Polarizing Task Light is also an extremely versatile lighting solution. Using the same touch control, you can perform a myriad of tasks under sufficient light intensity.

More intense or detailed activities such as studying or knitting often require higher lux levels, while activities like watching the television require lower light levels. The LED P1610 Polarizing Task Light has 5 levels to choose from, with the highest providing focused illumination at 1000 lux and the lowest providing a softer glow of 200 lux.

Guide to the the LED P1610 Polarizing Task Light explained - all it takes is experimenting with two touch control buttons and one ON/OFF button to find your comfort level

Guide to the the LED P1610 Polarizing Task Light explained – all it takes is experimenting with two touch control buttons and one ON/OFF button to find your comfort level

Ben reading with warm white at 400 lux in the evening, with no room lights on - bright and comfortable enough!

Ben reading with warm white at 400 lux in the evening, with no room lights on – bright and comfortable enough!

To top off it’s versatility, the LED P1610 Polarizing Task Light is also fitted with 3M’s Polarizing Filter Technology, which consists of a 3M proprietary optical film to reduce glare by up to 80%. Such rays occur when harmful light bounces off surfaces and creates reflective light (glare), a by-product when light bounces off a glossy surface material which actually is a main cause of strain on the eyes. While most other lamps allow normal light rays comprising both comfortable and harmful light to enter, the 3M polarizing optical film – which is what 3M is really great for! – only filters comfortable light through; at the same time, it converts the harmful rays into optimal lighting which means that only optimal light reaches the eyes.

Which is great for the kids as there is minimal immediate eye strain for them and they can work more productively and safely when the light is used, improving their psychological health as well.

Becks doing her homework at night - it's great that the light cuts out the glare and there's no shadow cast on her paper

Becks doing her homework at night – it’s great that the light cuts out the glare and there’s no shadow cast on her paper

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The LED P1610 Polarizing Task Light eliminates multiple shadow with its 3M Air-Guide Technology as well

The LED P1610 Polarizing Task Light also gives free angle control. I use it to clean the kids' ears at night too!

The LED P1610 Polarizing Task Light also gives free angle control. I use it to clean the kids’ ears at night too!

By providing effective illumination, constant task work is made more comfortable and better in the long run for protecting their eyes.

It’s amazing that 3M constantly upgrades its products to allow users to achieve optimal experience, and taps on its patented technology to enhance the well-being of its users. We’re certainly beneficiaries of good technology, and it’s great that as a mom, I’ve finally found the lighting solution for my kids who love to do their constant work and reading everywhere except their study table.

It’s now ‘Go there – sit down – do work – WITH the Polarizing Light, kids!’ and when that instruction is followed, it really doesn’t matter if they are found at the study table or not.

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More details: 

The LED P1610 Polarizing Task Light retails at SGD289 (w GST), and is available in two colors – Pure White and Solid Black, at all Popular bookstores and selected Best Denki and Challenger outlets.

A good investment that goes a long way, in my opinion!

Disclosure: The Kao Kids received the LED P1610 Polarizing Task Light from 3M for the purpose of this review. No monetary compensation was received and all opinions are our own. If you’re hard and fast about kids sitting right at a table, this light has a diameter of 16 cm and uses only 7.5W. Make space for it, and it will be a worthwhile investment! 

All this blog's PR Stuff Ben Kao Going Out! Nat Kao

For learning and the love for wildlife – Safari Zoo Run 2017

February 27, 2017

This has got to be the most meaningful Zoo Run yet.

To run for wildlife conservation, and to be educated along the way (literally) – what a new twist this adds to participating in a run.

Last Saturday, the boys and I, together with their father, participated in the annual Safari Zoo Run 2017. We took part in the fun and non-competitive race – the 2.5km Family Dash – and rooted for Team Canola, with a beautiful manatee named Canola as our team leader. Hurhurhur.

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But what was amazing was the fact that this year’s race took on a larger than life conservation effort that involved education about 4 endangered / threatened species.

Imagine being encouraged by cute animals – aka various “team leaders” – along your race route to stop for a photo and spread their message.

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And because I had inquisitive kids, I had to educate them along the way. With help from Google of course. Explaining to them why manatees are a threatened species, why elephants are endangered, why orang utans are facing extinction, and why even the hornbills have now made it to the list.

Here were my shoutouts for Team Chawang, Team Ah Meng and Team Sunny:

And of course, for our team leader – yipeety, Ms Manatee!

Now that is how we kill two birds with one stone – join a race and get that movement fix, and participate in conservation efforts while at that.

Thank you, Wildlife Reserves Singapore, and Safari Zoo Run 2017, for having us, and educating us. Looking forward to your continued conservation efforts in the next zoo run, for sure!

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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.

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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:

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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:

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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)…

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

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  • 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…

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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.

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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!

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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…

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

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