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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.

 

(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!

Ben Kao Family life as we know it Milestones and growing up

Too naughty to handle – soundbites from a p-one child

November 2, 2016

It’s been a full ten months going eleven of being a Primary One kid’s mom. And while I am conscious of the fact that my firstborn is growing up fast and would soon take issue with his school life shared on a public domain, I can’t resist the thought of penning some of the darndest things he’s said and done.

It’s ok, son. It’s ok to be naughty. Mama’s got your back covered for now.

 

Losing his spelling list

Ben: I can’t learn my spelling. I lost my spelling list.

Me: Then go ask your teacher for another one.

Ben: I can’t! She’ll scold me!

Me: Why can’t you? Just tell her you lost it!

Ben: I can’t lah. Nevermind I have a plan.

Having a plan

Me: (walking him to the bus stop to wait for school bus) So, tomorrow’s your spelling. Have you learned it?

Ben: No. I don’t have the list.

Me: So what is your plan?

Ben: I’m going to borrow from a girl. A girl will sure have her spelling list. I’ll copy the words down.

Me: Great idea.

At the 1st Parent-Teacher Conference

Ben’s teacher: I wanted you to know something. Ben cheated for his spelling test last week.

Me: ???

Teacher: Last week, during spelling he was looking down under his table and I found him copying the words from his partner’s spelling list.

Me: Is his partner a girl?

Teacher: Yes.

Me: -_-

Why did you copy?

Me: (back at home) Why did you cheat?

Ben: I didn’t.

Me: Your teacher said you did. You copied from your friend’s spelling list.

Ben: Huh. That was my plan!

Me: You are not supposed to copy! Spelling test means you learn the words by heart and spell them without looking at them. What did you think a test is?

Ben: Huh. I thought I lost my list so my plan is to borrow from a girl to copy!

Me: -_-

~~~

No handphone, public phone can?

Ben: Mom, can I have a handphone?

Me: No.

Ben: If I have one, then I can play Mine Craft and Pokemon like my friends.

Me: I want you to be immersed in the world of books and wonderful stories.

Ben: Huh. But I want a handphone. I want to call you.

Me: Come here. I give you ten cents. If you want to call me, call me on a public phone. It does the same thing.

Ben: -_-

~~~

Canteen Fun, I

Me: Did you do anything naughty today? I’ll be asking you that every day since your teacher has been telling me you and your friends are quite naughty. Talking during National Anthem and running around the canteen during silent reading.

Ben: Hmm. Uhmm. I did.

Me: What?

Ben: You know right, today, we all did an experiment in the canteen. My friend bought a fizzy drink, and I added ice cream, and someone else poured something in – I don’t know what lah, maybe his soup – and we dared one another to drink it.

Me: -_-

Canteen Fun, II

Me: Did you do anything naughty today?

Ben: Uhm, yes!

Me: What is it?

Ben: You know right, today, we all did another experiment in the canteen. A friend bought a fizzy drink and someone else added mentos and we shook the bottle until it exploded and it spilled all over the floor.

Me: Oh my.

Ben: And the best part was I told everyone to run away and we all did and we hid in the library!

Me: -_-

~~~

Girls are our buddies, I

Ben: Mom, today our teacher gave us a buddy.

Me: Who’s your buddy?

Ben: I forgot her name.

Me: Ten months into school and you don’t know your classmate’s name?

Ben: She’s a girl lah, and I can’t be bothered to remember girls’ names!

Me: -_-

Girls are our buddies, II

Me: So why do you have a girl as a buddy?

Ben: ALL the boys in class now have girls as their buddies. My teacher punished us with that.

Me: ?

Ben: We were being violent during recess. We played an “attack” game and H pushed me so I pushed him back and he fell and my teacher found out and she banned us from playing during recess. The girls are our buddies to watch us so we don’t play during recess.

Me: You’re banned from playing?

Ben: Yea, we’re not supposed to play. Only can eat.

Me: -_-

Girls are our buddies, III

Ben: But we quickly found the solution to our girl problems.

Me: Tell me.

Ben: We trick the girls!

Me: How?

Ben: We all run to the toilet and hide from them, and then run out to play!

Me: -_-

~~~

Postscript: Fatherkao believes boys would be boys and I shouldn’t be controlling too much or hovering around him and nagging him like a typical helicopter parent. “He’s a boy; let him do what boys do.”

Oh well, for now I’ll just laugh it off.

 

 

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

Goodbye, Jay

May 14, 2016

My kids have crushed insects, witnessed the death of a flattened bird on the streets of Melaka with its guts spilling out and handled dead lizards, but no dead animal would burn in the kids’ memory as much as losing their very first pet.

For all who know us and have visited, you would know Ben, Becks and Nat have pet terrapins. I embarked on a responsibility project for the Kao kids last August when we went to Nanyang Aquarium to pick out three terrapins. Each of them chose one and their task was to learn to be a good pet owner. They named their terrapins Jay, Jillybean and Jojo and have had them for company since then. They fed their pets, walked them (yes, they did), brought them out of the tank to play and even talked to them. The only area of slack was the cleaning and changing of fresh water for the tank (and you would know that water smells foul every two days). The complaint was that they would make a mess handling the pebbles at the bottom of the tank (well, they did try), and so my helper would rather do it for them instead.

Terrapins_IG2

Terrapins_IG1

Even when we left for Bangkok for 3 weeks, we left them in good hands.

YeeyeeIG

My sis would send an update to let the kids know that the three Js were alive and well.

It was until we returned from our trip last December that we realised that one of the terrapins never grew. It remained small while the other two have tripled in size.

Terrapins

We thought that the bigger ones may have deprived the smallest from food, and so as a family, we went back to Nanyang, got a separate tank and made sure the smallest ate its fill every day.

Nat and Ben were in charge of making sure every terrapin was fed. These boys, I have to say, have more guts than their mother and sister. I can never watch them feed their terrapins. They don’t throw the food in the water. They hold the pellets with their pincer grip and make the terrapins come to them. (I wished I’d taken photos of them doing so!) They would pat the little fellas on their heads even though those fellas looked all ready to chomp my boys’ fingers.

I would shriek and ask them to stop for fear they might break a bone. They would laugh and shrug their shoulders, and give me the roll-eyes-at-their-mother look .

Boys.

My little girl, still slightly afraid of anything remotely resembling an animal, was always happy to have her brothers do her pet-caring job.

Unfortunately, the isolation gig didn’t work and the smallest, which the kids identified to be Jay, was still not growing. They decided that Jay was too lonely and needed to be with friends, and so he went back to the bigger tank and continued the fight for food with the other two.

Until he lay motionless with his eyes shut last Saturday morning.

***

The Kao kids went through the four stages of grief pretty much within the same day upon discovering the lifeless terrapin. The denial bit was witnessed throughout our Mother’s Day dinner. Once in a while, I would ask them about Jay and how they were feeling, and they would come up with suggestions that he wasn’t really dead and we (the adults) were all mistaken.

He must’ve been taking a nap! Just closing his eyes what.

Well, I saw him move lah. 

Yea, he was swimming. 

Fatherkao reminded them that we’d have to do a proper burial and they got so excited about where to bury him, forgetting that it was their dead pet they would be burying. The conversations in the car revolved around topics like how to dig a hole, where to find a shovel, what would happen if it rains, and where in the world in our vast ‘downstairs’ can we bury a dead terrapin.

When we reached home, they checked on Jay to see if we were all really mistaken. And clearly, we were not, and so the anger stage set in almost immediately.

Someone picked a terrapin with a defect!

It got sick!!!

Why did it not grow? We’ve all done our best to feed it!

The other two are the naughty ones that always snatch food from Jay! 

And when they were finally done with all the talk, their father sat them down, took an old shoe box and some old wrapping paper, and proceeded to pick Jay up from the tank. It had gone limp and its shell had turned soft. Fatherkao asked everyone to bid Jay goodbye and we all said ‘See you in heaven’. He wrapped the lifeless Jay up in the paper and put him in the shoe box. Then he covered the box.

And here comes the teachable moment. “Let’s remember that it is the weak we need to protect. We all could have done better,” he said.

The kids were very quiet by now, and the third stage of depression was starting to set in. Jay was thrown down the chute after the goodbyes. We didn’t bury him because it was late and dark, but the loss – whether we had a burial or not – was already keenly felt in their hearts.

How did I know?

When I held Nat and thanked him for taking care of Jay every morning, he hugged me tight and wailed like a baby.

I saw – for the first time – that look of helplessness in his eyes, as if to say, he’s tried his best.

I saw tears filling Ben’s eyes.

I saw Becky sit in silence.

I watched my 3 kids sit around quietly to draw memories of Jay.

Nat drawing_1

Nat drawing_2

Nat's drawing

Nat draws his impression of Jay – he specifically looked for this shade of green

Ben drawing

Ben drawing_Jay's memories

Ben draws Jay’s life from Day 1 in his sketch book

Becks writes what she knows and draws herself feeling sad

Becks writes what she knows and draws herself feeling sad

And so through drawing, they went through the last stage – that of acceptance – before the day ended.

I am grateful that I got a chance to watch all these emotions from my children unfold. To see loss through my children’s eyes, and to behold that capacity that they have within themselves to feel sad and yet be able to handle that sadness.

Though things will not be the same again without Jay, I am glad that Jay gave them a lesson that no school or textbook can teach.

They handled their loss with compassion and acceptance, and with much finesse and quiet strength – even if it was meant for a small creature like a terrapin.

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

This too shall pass

January 8, 2016

When I had a baby who fell sick pretty often, having suffered HFMD twice, needing to draw blood for running high fevers every week, I thought I hit the rock bottom of motherhood.

But that eventually passed.

When I had an infant and a toddler – oh, correction: a screaming infant and a needy toddler – and my husband very unfortunately broke his leg and was wheelchair bound for 6 months and I had a full-time job to do, I thought I hit rock bottom again in this arduous journey called motherhood.

But that eventually passed as well.

When I was pregnant with a bigger-than-his-siblings baby who made me breathless all the time and gave me an almost hip dislocation which caused the doctor to order bed rest, and I was towing a screamy toddler who was tantrum-prone and an inquisitive, chatty and eager-to-learn preschooler who needed to field questions at his mother almost every waking minute and still at a full-time job, I thought I was stretched beyond thin in this motherhood gig.

Well, that too, eventually passed.

And then soon enough I had a nursing infant in my arms (who needed to nurse all!the!time!) and two preschoolers; and as if that wasn’t already crazy enough, I made the insane decision to stay home, living those years thinking that I could very well have gone mad with having to cope with 3 kids with such close age differences.

But that eventually passed and although I had lost my sanity again and again, my screw’s pretty tight right now thankfully, so phew.

This is 2016 and there are now 2 preschoolers and a primary school goer in the house. There’s now, in addition to the neediness from the younger ones (because Mama’s back to full time work launching something exciting and can no longer send them to school so they take the school bus), insecurity and uncertainty from the primary one goer who has homework, bag-packing, sorting out pocket money and spelling to do and learn. Add to that also – the new kindergarten is pushing my middle child in typical P1-ready fashion from Day One already, which is totally stressing me out. I saw the words ‘canopy’, ’emergent layer’, ‘understory’ and ‘rainforest’ in my K2’s spelling list for Week 6 which left me FLABBERGASTED beyond words because my dear girl can barely read, let alone spell.

For the first week of the year, I felt nothing but stress to have to rush home in time to make sure everyone is in bed by 8.30pm (which still ended up to be 9ish, 10pm – my poor, sleep-deprived children!) and making sure all 3 bags are packed, that spelling is learned, homework is done and everyone gets some air time to share their day at school. I feel guilty for leaving them in the hands of my helper for most parts of my working day and having to turn on the TV for them so the helper can cook and they would not be up to any mischief shooting catapults at birds from the window or drawing on the walls or making 1000 calls to me. With three of them at different developmental milestones in learning and always wanting to play and be their active selves, it is impossible to implement a self-directed learning routine.

It has to involve me and me setting the routines with them, and helping them follow a schedule while instilling discipline, which I unfortunately can’t do; because this year, I’ve gone back to vesting my time fully at work.

Which leaves me again with three needy kids whose love language of quality time I can’t speak on week days  – well, at least this first week of school – and a definitive surge of suckiness all round.

I feel it in my fingers. I feel it in my toes. This sucky, yucky feeling.

And this too, shall eventually pass.

RIGHT?

Back to school in new environments!

Back to school in new environments! My big babies!

Family life as we know it Going Out! Happy days Holidays! The Kao Kids

Bangkok Living, Part 2 – Street Eats

December 3, 2015

I am making seasoned travellers out of my kids, doing the most untouristy things here in Bangkok (read about why we are here here). We’ve been here 4 days now and we’ve not eaten at a single restaurant nor visited a single tourist attraction (save Siam Paragon, which I went to, just to see how much the food hall’s changed).

We’re living in an apartment where cooking isn’t allowed, and so we are always searching for where to have breakfast, lunch and dinner. There’s a bustling street selling street food right in front of where we live, but we’ve not tried anything there yet. We’ve been hopping around on our friend’s car and he’s been taking us to where the REAL good food is.

I don’t think we will encounter any eating experience that can match what we’ve been experiencing so far if we lived in the greater BKK metropolis. I’d thought I’ve done enough street to get some street cred from the few times I’ve visited Bangkok, but those were in no way near what I’ve experienced on this trip.

And my kids. Oh, these kids. The transformation these 4 days have been pretty amazing. They’ve managed to morph from grumpy on Day 1, whining about no air con, the unbearable heat and dirty floors to becoming solidly adaptable, gamely trying anything I feed them by Day 3. I’m not sure if it’s because they see how much their mother eats at every turn she makes, or if it’s because of the generosity of my Bangkokian friend who made sure we get to try everything that’s good on the menu, or if it’s due to my repeated nagging about the value of taking the road less travelled and getting them NOT to think and act like self-entitled tourists, but I am sure the fact that the awesomely tasty food we’ve been ingesting so far helps A LOT in making them enjoy what they are eating now.

Nothing beats living like this, really.

~~~

*Warning: Salivation expected. Food pictures ahead.*

Over the last 3 days, we’ve had…

Duck

I’ve never tasted duck this good, soup that tasted so herb-y yet heavenly, and noodles that soaked up the savoury gravy this soft and chewy. This was duck noodles near Thong Lor.

This was the first thing I wanted to have - duck noodles.

This was the first thing I wanted to have – duck noodles. Soup version.

The story goes that many years ago, my friend posted a picture of this claypot duck noodles and declared it heavenly. I commented saying I wished I could try it. And many years later, I am FINALLY here. In other news, hello again, blood pudding.

Duck noodles. Claypot version. The story goes that many years ago, my friend posted a picture of this claypot duck noodles and declared it heavenly. I commented saying I wished I could try it. And many years later, I am FINALLY here.
In other news, hello again, blood pudding. I’ve never forgotten how you tasted since Yong Tau Foo days at Tiong Bahru market when I was 6.

Beef

This was refreshing as it was salty. A happy paradox, no less. I bet no one can tell this was beef just by looking at the second bowl.

This was a helluva kicka** beef noodles soup tucked in some corner of some Soi which I would never have known existed for 40 years. My friend's wife had this as a kid, and she says the taste hasn't changed.

This was a helluva kicka** beef brisket soup tucked in some corner of some Soi which I would never have known existed for 40 years. My friend’s wife had this as a kid, and she says the taste hasn’t changed.

This clear beef noodles soup so so so tasty. Kids had it with sugar added to the soup and liked it much.

This clear beef noodles soup was so so so tasty. Kids had it with sugar added to the soup and liked it much.

Thai coconut pancakes

These were piping hot when we got them and they were oozing creamy coconut sweetness in the mouth. These Thai coconut pancakes would be something I would miss so much – where can I find them in Singapore?

We bought this from a roadside stall for our breakfast and they were filled with yummy coconut goodness with spring onions and corn as surprises

We bought this from a roadside stall for our breakfast and they were filled with yummy coconut goodness with spring onions and corn kernels as surprises

Yong Tau Foo, Thai-style; and Green Curry

After tennis training yesterday, my friend brought us to this obscure lane with a stall that’s a gem on its own. It’s in Soi 32 of Ramkhamhaeng. I won’t be able to tell how to get there as it’s clearly untouristy, right in the midst of terrace houses, a pebble-filled open space and lots of trees and motorbikes BUT it was a satisfying eating experience here through and through.

The short walk from car to stall along a dusty road

The short walk from car to stall along a dusty road

Who would have known such good food can be tucked here?

Who would have known such good food can be tucked here?

This is where deliciousness begins

This is where deliciousness begins

The spice line-up

The spice line-up

Granite seating and "landscaped" view

Granite seating and “landscaped” view

Typical fare on the tables – coconut kueh-like dessert and fried pork lard

And this was what we ate:

This is Thai style seafood yong tau foo with the sweet sauce and chilli sauce mixed. Kids had it in sweet.

This is Thai style seafood yong tau foo with the sweet sauce and chilli sauce mixed. Kids had it in sweet.

The most authentic green curry I've ever had in my life. I could breathe in the variety of herbs and chillis used and by golly, this was VERY spicy!

The most authentic green curry I’ve ever had in my life. I could breathe in the variety of herbs and chillis used and by golly, this was VERY spicy!

Thank God for this Pandan jelly drink to wash away the spice!

Thank God for this Pandan jelly drink to wash away the spice!

I hear you can only find this brand in the area where the locals are. Well, at least this girl's cute face ain't too difficult to remember.

I hear you can only find this brand in the area where the locals are. Well, at least this girl’s cute face ain’t too difficult to remember.

Dessert for sale

Dessert for sale

We bought some desserts home and the total cost of everything we ate and drank and bought (which included a packet of banana chips, 4 packets of sugar-coated nuts and coconut milk jelly) amounted to 375 baht. The Singaporean in me gasped for all the money I’ve ever spent on horrible foodcourt food.

I ate myself happy every meal. I think the kids did too. It has been nothing but. Enriching. Awesome. Tasty.

This Bangkok living.

And this is only the first week!

——-

Also in this series: Bangkok Living, Part 1 – Tennis in Bangkok

Family life as we know it Happy days Holidays! The Kao Kids

Bangkok Living, Part 1 – Tennis in Bangkok

December 3, 2015

When we wanted Ben to pick up a sport, he was most undecided. For a while, he liked everything. Golf? Yes! Badminton? Yes! Tennis? Yes! Soccer? Yes! Basketball? Yes! Swimming? Yes! Anything? Yes!

So earlier in the year, Ben picked up swimming and went for swim class weekly. Unfortunately, he was always sneezing in the frigid waters of the cold, cold pool and falling ill quite a bit after his swim class every week so we decided to stop the classes when we moved to the west.

Which brought us back to square one again after that. He still couldn’t tell us what he really wanted to learn when we asked. Don’t ask me why I am big about my boys picking up a sport; I just think it will do their athletic genes injustice if they were to learn a musical instrument instead of a sport first.

But this time round, his father made the decision for him, told him little of his plans and flew the entire family away on a one-way ticket to Thailand – which explains why we are here now in Bangkok. He’s started Ben on tennis training here with a Thai coach and we are gonna be holed up here for the next 3 weeks.

And were we glad that after the first session, the coach (Koo Dai, as Ben calls him; literally Coach Turtle) assessed Ben and concluded that he had potential in the sport and amazing concentration for a 6-year-old. So instead of packing up and coming home (which we would, should he tell us to give it up, that’s why the one-way ticket), we’ve booked 3 weeks worth of intensive training every morning with him so that Ben gets the right footing in terms of the correct techniques in the game.

He’s a new slate, we didn’t know who’s good in Singapore and he needs to be taught the right habits for the sport -practically sums up why we are here with Dai because he came highly recommended by my good friend who lives here.

Tennis training begins here daily at 06:00

Tennis training begins here daily at 06:00

Ben in action

Ben in action

For the rest of us, we are going to be living and eating the way of the locals and immersing ourselves in Thai culture (and Thai TV). We are staying in the outskirts and having our fill of authentic Thai street food and the horrible Bangkok jams.

And just in case you think it’s a nice three-week vacation, nope, sorry.

Brought all our curriculum work, school work, business work to do

Brought all our curriculum work, school work, business work to do

Sawadeekha.

Family life as we know it Milestones and growing up Nat Kao The darndest kid quotes and antics

My littlest, 3 years, 4 months

June 30, 2015

Nat Kao_3years4months

Someone’s got a pretty good brain that’s been doing lots of quick thinking lately, not to mention the really glib tongue.

Someone who’s just barely turned three.

Someone who’s the apple of my eye.

***

Me: So Nat, shall we skip the diaper today?

Nat: Yes! Gimme my monster underwear!

Me: Remember to go pass urine in the toilet bowl, k. You have no diaper on.

Nat: Ok, I am a big boy now!

A while later, a yellow pool floods the sofa …

Ben: Ewwwww! Nat passed urine!!!!

Becks: (running away) Yucks! Nat passed urine!

Me: (running to the sofa) Oh no, Nat! Thought you said you would go to the toilet? Haiyah!

Nat: Haiyah! Why you didn’t wear diapers for me?

Me: -_-

***

Fatherkao: Who wrapped masking tape on the blind’s string? It’s all so sticky now!

Kao kids: (silence)

Fatherkao: Better own up now, whoever did it.

Nat: Dada, maybe the lizard did it?

***

Nat: Mama!

Me: Yes, my dear Nathanael?

A while later…

Me: Nat Nat!

Nat: Yes, my dear Elizabeth?

***

At the USS Gift Store

Me: Nat, check out your favourite fruit.

Nat: Come on, everyone, let’s do it!

Kao kids: Ba-ba-ba-ba-bu-na-na!

***

Banana Kao Kids

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

Experiencing dinosaurs

April 30, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo credit: rwsentosa.com

Photo credit: rwsentosa.com

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

Nat goes a dino-soaring with a green triceratops

Nat goes a dino-soaring with a green triceratops

And then real dino-soaring with the pterodacyls

And then real dino-soaring with the pterodactyls

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

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

This velociraptor dude looks so real and it moves!

This velociraptor dude looks so real and it moves!

T-Rex chomp!

T-Rex chomp!

Help!

Help!

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

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

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

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

There's a triceratops on top!

There’s a triceratops on top!

How about some predator a'roaring?

How about some predator a’roaring?

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

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

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

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

Jurassic Park Huddle

Jurassic Park Huddle

***

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

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

Here are the mechanics:

How to participate

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

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

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

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

Week 3: 5 x Rebel Kidz Retro Racer Balance Bike

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

Week 5: 5 x GOPRO Hero Camera

Week 6: 3 x Port of Lost Wonders party package

Week 7: 5 x Fujifilm Instax Share Printer

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

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

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