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Stealthy, steady success for a 40th birthday bash – Part 2

August 20, 2014

So the husband turned 40 earlier this August, and was given total VIP treatment by me, the kids and the good people at Crowne Plaza Changi Airport.

And because Changi Airport, particularly Terminal 3, is our family’s favouritest place in this country, it was especially special for us to be celebrating Fatherkao’s birthday there, staycating at one of the ‘World’s Top Ten Airport Hotels’.

From my stealth liaising a month before the birthday surprise to the day we checked out, my family was warmly hosted at Crowne Plaza. The Marketing Manager was fully attentive to the needs of our family of five as she arranged for us to check into the 36-square-metres Deluxe Twin Club Room with an extra rollaway bed so we could all sleep comfortably. And when she learned that the entire staycation would be a surprise birthday celebration for Fatherkao, she gamely offered to place a cake in the room so I didn’t have to run around the airport with kids in tow to hunt for one prior to checking in.

Crowne Plaza Deluxe Twin Room: Two little people are getting comfortable!

The Crowne Plaza Deluxe Twin Room: two little people are getting comfortable!

Checking out the room, and lazing on the rollaway bed

Checking out the room, and lazing on the rollaway bed

The glass panelled bathroom! And so we thought we'd be in full view of everyone when we shower, until we found blinds!

The glass panelled bathroom! And so we thought we’d be in full view of everyone when we shower, until we found the blinds!

I did nothing but turn up, check in, blow the balloons and light the candles with the kids to create some party atmosphere for the birthday boy.

This was special delivery, arranged by the Marketing Manager, who thought it'd be nice to have a cake at check in

This was special delivery, arranged by the Marketing Manager, who thought it’d be nice to have a cake at check in. The Lobby Lounge has one of the best cake selections, in my opinion. Because this cake was absolute heaven.

We were also given exclusive Club Lounge Access, and there, the kids got juice, the adults had coffee, and we all spent a lovely afternoon together after the cake-cutting, watching Fatherkao teach Ben how to play a game a chess.

Ready to lounge!

Ready to lounge!

First, some chess. Then, some juice!

First, some chess. Then, some juice!

The Club Lounge at Crowne Plaza Hotel Changi Airport was such a respite. At the lounge, we could look out and see the bustling city traffic on one side and a calming rainforest pool view on the other. The best part of it was, we had the place largely to ourselves.

City view from the Club window

City view from the Club window

Pool view from the Club window

Pool view from the Club window

We checked out the pool after we were done with our lounging, and I must say, I haven’t seen so much open space for a while in concrete jungle Singapore.

A pool with a view

A pool with a view when you look out and up

I’ve never swam in a pool like this, amidst lush greenery and wooden sun decks. It was like being in an island resort while in a city. I loved the space I could look out to, and the planes I could look up at. The kids enjoyed exploring the pool in their floats, although the water was extremely cold and being in it made our teeth chatter so much we had to head to the bathtub in the room immediately after for a warm soak.

I think the kids had the most fun being in the bathtub in full view of us looking in from the room on our beds. Give these kids warm water any time. They haven’t learned to swim yet so they’d much prefer the safety of the tub.

Before dinner we headed to the Club Lounge again, which was on the same floor as our room and the pool – and oh how so convenient to just pop by whenever we wanted – to enjoy evening cocktails, mocktails and canapés. I loved that at 5.30pm when we were there, there was absolutely no one (the hotel folks say the tourists usually head out to town and weekends are quieter than weekdays). We had the entire lounge to ourselves, and were given such royal treatment, getting served drinks of our choice, snacks and then getting our photos taken.

Oh the spread of canapes! This was like dinner for me!

Oh the spread of canapés! This was like dinner for us already!

We sneaked out while the littlest was napping to have some snacks and drinks

We sneaked out while the littlest was napping to have some snacks and drinks

I had a mocktail, he had a Singapore Sling!

I had a mocktail, he had a Singapore Sling!

Can you tell? The birthday boy was one happy camper, and was savouring every minute of his 40th birthday.

Later in the evening, we were hosted by Azur, the award-winning restaurant at Level 2 in Crowne Plaza for Fatherkao’s birthday dinner, and had some of his closest buds join us for more celebration over food, wine and laughs. At the restaurant, we talked and laughed over a good buffet spread of Eastern and Western cuisines – something which we haven’t done so with our friends for a while.

And what an even more pleasant surprise to find that there was yet another surprise for the birthday boy with yet another birthday song and cake.

Everyone's really making sure the birthday boy realises he is 40!

Everyone’s really making sure somebody realises he is 40!

Fatherkao was more than happy to be eating cake again. Not before he tried to clean off the zero in the ‘40‘ which was piped on his plate.

So he cleaned off the zero, and wished he was 4 instead

So he cleaned off the zero, and wished he was 4 instead

Still in denial, this man.

After dinner, the men continued with more wine and talk, while their wives and kids lazed in the cosy hotel room. Nothing would have pleased my husband more than this: to be able to enjoy good wine with his buddies whom he has known for decades and to cheers to more good years ahead.

The best things in life: food, friends and family

The best things in life: food, friends and family

Someone once said, “Men are like wine – some turn to vinegar but the best improve with age.” I certainly married someone that’s turning into fine wine at 40.

You’re not old, dear. You’re just mature. 


Thank you, everyone that came to make Fatherkao’s day, and Crowne Plaza Hotel Changi Airport, for your hospitality and impeccable service. You’ve made this birthday really special and have set the standard for all the other staycations to come, because Fatherkao says it’s the best one he’s had so far. We’ve done A LOT of staycations since 2004, and if he says so, you’re truly something!


Disclosure: Crowne Plaza Hotel Changi Airport sponsored our 2D1N staycation-and-birthday-celebration for Fatherkao, and hosted us at Azur for dinner. We had exclusive access to the Crowne Plaza Club, and had our breakfast there the next day as well. I did not receive any monetary compensation, and this post was a result of the wonderful experience we’ve had celebrating a milestone and being pampered silly. This may be the most unlikely place to consider having a staycation, but I tell you – the SPACE you get! Being away from the crowd and having such exclusivity is totally worth it, if you’re someone like me who is tired of too many malls, too many people and  too much noise.

This was our breakfast at the Club Lounge - we had the place all to ourselves on a beautiful Sunday morning

This was our breakfast at the Club Lounge – we had the place all to ourselves on a beautiful Sunday morning

Entrance to Crowne Plaza

The entrance to Crowne Plaza

More details:

Crowne Plaza is connected to Changi Airport’s Terminal 3 via a seamless, air-conditioned link bridge that gives you easy access to the shops and F&B outlets that operate round-the-clock.

A 2D1N stay in a deluxe room on a weekend starts from SGD263 and includes breakfast. The deluxe rooms feature an ergonomic workspace, comfortable beds, ensuite bathroom with separate rainshower and bathtub, and free WiFi connection.

Overnight parking is available at the airport for SGD20.

All this blog's PR Stuff Fatherkao loves... Going Out! Happy days Motherkao loves... Reviews The Kao Kids

Stealthy, steady success for a 40th birthday bash – Part 1

August 19, 2014

Fatherkao at the Club Lounge

I’ve known this man for 14 years, and ever since he became my husband 10 years ago, I have never kept a secret from him.

Not until I had to plan a birthday surprise for him this year.

Fatherkao was getting all pensive and in a totally reflective state about turning 40 (and the worst hit came when he received the letter for Eldershield, hurhurhur), and I’d thought that a birthday party was in order to turn turning 40 into an occasion to celebrate.

I started a secret whatsapp chat with all his buddies (who incidentally have also turned 40 a few years ago) and amidst jokes that they would all be getting him Salonpas Pain Relief Patches for his birthday present, they all agreed to come and spend the day with him because there was nothing he would appreciate more than good company and wine. I changed the passcode to my phone and operated completely by stealth to liaise with the wonderful folks at Crowne Plaza Changi Airport who were so extremely kind and generous to host us for a staycation and dinner. I packed everything for the stay, including his, only on that morning of the staycation day itself (while Fatherkao was out) and told him that I’ll be whisking him away for a holiday – and so he had to meet me and the kids at the airport.

Our plan that day was to check into the hotel room before meeting him, prep the room with balloons, and take him there to surprise him with cake.

I knew he knew the impossibility of me taking him away for a holiday by plane even though his birthday fell on a Saturday, and I was sure he even suspected that we were heading for a staycation, but I was glad he played along any way when I asked him to meet me at T3. He loves the airport, and since Terminal 3 has always been our favourite place to hang out as a family he had nary a grumble when I told him we’ve missed the plane and lunch at Pasta Mania would be his birthday treat instead.

And then when lunch was over, I told him we would be heading to the hotel lounge at Crowne Plaza Changi Airport for desserts (the first time I lied so blatantly in front of the kids who have already checked in with me way before lunch, blew up balloons and prepped the place). The kids and I were doing our best to keep the secret of a staycation in, although the excitement was already building up to such a level we could hardly contain it! Fatherkao kept asking the kids what was going to happen, and they were so game to play along by telling him it’s all a secret.

Until I gave the secret away. Unknowingly.

We walked past Bata at B2 on our way to Crowne Plaza and Becks asked when I was getting her the pair of princess shoes she’s been wanting to buy, and I said, “Tomorrow, k? Let’s buy it tomorrow.”

Fatherkao turned to me, and asked with a grin, “So… staycation, right? Cos’ tomorrow we’re coming back here to buy shoes.”


Still, with the secret out, we managed to give him a really pleasant surprise by bringing him to the hotel room, getting him to walk in with his eyes closed, and having the loveliest raspberry and chocolate mousse cake ever together – oh, the decadence!

Despite my slip, it was still a big surprise for the big boy who blew out four big candles on his big four-o.


Blowing out the candles

Cutting the cake

Decadent raspberry chocolate mousse cake

Fatherkao and the Kao kids

The secret’s out, you’re 40, happy birthday, my love!


More about our awesome birthday celebration and staycation at Crowne Plaza Changi Airport in Part 2 here, and why this staycation has set the standard for all the others to come.

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Imagining a LEGOverse

August 13, 2014

I have a LEGO-obsessed firstborn.

My five-year-old loves LEGO. He’s loved it since the days of playing with the Quadro and Duplo. He loves the smaller bricks even more now with the endless possibilities of building and rebuilding, creating and recreating.

Every morning when he wakes, he heads to his LEGO tub, pulls some bricks out along with a troop of minifigures and enters a realm of imagination that is nothing but fascinating. He makes up stories, invents characters and builds systems and machines. I have to say we’ve indeed indulged him with a little too much of a good thing by buying him close to a hundred minifig blind packs, which also means we get frequent entertainment featuring hilarious characters and story lines.

Like robots in Viking garb on surfboards and strange men in helmets wearing animal costumes. And rock stars on ice skates wearing wigs, riding dragons and flying planes.

Too funny for words, it often is.

Recently, Ben got to take home this from LEGO, which got him really excited. He’s not yet near ‘8-14’, as was the suggested age range, and figured he might need lots of help to make sense of the instructions and piecing the parts together, so he got his father (who loves LEGO too and was the one who started the Kao kids on it) to promise to be his help and guide during construction.

And to walk out of the office holding this - was awesome cool for the big LEGO fan!

And to walk out of the office holding this – was awesome cool for the big LEGO fan!

Despite being really thrilled, the boy waited very patiently for weeks for his busy father to carve time out to build the given set with him. Fatherkao promised to build the Eris Fire Eagle Flyer with him as part of their ‘Special Time’ together, and because he promised, Ben patiently waited.

So what did he do while waiting? He admired the box daily (which he proudly displayed on his desk and declared ‘Hands Off, It’s Mine’ to his siblings) and went on to create supporting storylines as part of his daily LEGO routine based on that one image he has from the box through imaginative play with his loose set of bricks and lots of role-playing with his siblings.

This boy actually knew nothing about The Legends of Chima, and the various warring animal tribes. He saw a wolf, a bear and an eagle from the picture on the box and went on make up stories of conflict and peace featuring the eternal, universal theme of good versus evil. It was quite entertaining to hear him weave stories around animals, with Wolf being the baddie on some days but the good guy on one or two occasions, and Eagle as the hero that would save others from their distress.

Last night, he finally pieced the Eris Fire Eagle Flyer with his father, following the instructions page by page, interlocking and stacking brick by brick.

Here’s looking at the construction from start to finish, from Ben’s eyes:

Yay, 'Special Time' at last!

Yay, ‘Special Time’ at last!

LEGO Building Time_6

Box’s opened, and packs are taken out and sorted first

Look at the instruction booklet and start with the building - part by part

Dada says look at the instruction booklet and let’s start building – part by part

Sort...Make space...

Ready? Sort…Make space…And go!

...And build!

I’m a Master Builder, everything’s awesome!

Click, click, click

Click, click, click!

Little hands need bigger hands for precision and sliding parts in...

I need bigger hands for precision and sliding parts in

Dada, I'll try to make as many parts on my own, says Ben

But I’ll try to make and fix as many smaller parts as I can

Is it night already: the boys needed better lighting for the finishing touches, so construction was shifted to the living room. Initially they were in the bedroom so the littlest hands could be kept away, and father and son could get time alone together

It’s night already? Better lighting is needed for the finishing touches, so we need to construct in the living room. (They were in the bedroom before this so the littlest hands could be kept away, and father and son could get time alone together.)

And let's hear it for the big boys with a collective WOW now

We’ve finished!

Built by big and little hands, my dad and I!

Built by big and little hands, my dad and I!

Post-construction, I was so glad my son didn’t declare he needed the parts glued together or displayed as a trophy. He was protective of it, yes he was, but that was because he was preparing to spend a whole lot of time “imagining everything” in Chima all by himself.

And so it began: the grunting, talking and ‘boy noises’ with that Eagle Flyer. He even roped his little brother in for the action.

Can you hear them? It’s Beeesh… Chebaaaabooom… Weeeee…. Oooooohhh…. Baaaaahh… in case you can’t figure it out.

Absorbed in LEGOverse

Absorbed in LEGOverse

I’m pretty sure I am not the only mom whose children have created an entire universe of LEGO play, making up stories, creating characters and building machines along the way. A lot of imagining goes into inventing that LEGOverse where nothing is stagnant, and even more dexterity and hand-eye coordination goes into bringing everything in that universe to life.

What I always knew was that a box of LEGO bricks would take my children into the realm of informal learning through play, and by that I’ve always only thought it to be developing their creativity and fine motor skills. What I didn’t realise (but eventually did after watching father and son build something together) was that beyond informal learning through play, a set of LEGO bricks could also promote role modelling and bonding, instill patience and encourage focus. It also taught my son to visualise and gave him a huge sense of achievement to be making something so massive from nothing.

And then invite him to play and imagine some more.


This post originally appeared here on

Everyday fun! Family life as we know it Fatherkao loves... Happy days Milestones and growing up The Kao Kids

The hippos are HUNGRY, HUNGRY (chomp!)

June 30, 2014

The house is really noisy these days.

You will be amazed at how much noise pollution this thing, together with these four people makes:

Hungry Hungry Hippo_1

The game’s called ‘Hungry Hungry Hippos’. If you were born in the 70’s or 80’s, I think you’d find it very familiar!

Hungry Hungry Hippo_3

Simple rules: Hands up, get set, chomp!

Gives pandemonium at home a new definition, I tell you.

Fatherkao recently ordered this from Amazon after searching for it in local Toys ‘R’ Us stores for months. They don’t have the game any where, and so we paid USD12.88 for the game and almost four times the game price for shipping.

It’s crazy, I know. I was tempted to scold the husband for spending money like this, until I saw this on the first night they played the game:

Hungry Hungry Hippo_2

And this on another night:

Hungry Hungry Hippo_4

Hungry Hungry Hippo_5

And then the littlest getting all too amused and engaged with the travel set Fatherkao ordered too:

Check out how he plays the two-player game on his own, left hand vs. right hand, in all sort so of positions!

Check out how he plays the two-player game on his own, left hand vs. right hand, in all sort so of positions!

Then I remembered what I often hear my pastor say on Sundays from the pulpit. ‘Use money, love people; NOT use people, love money’. In my husband’s case, he used his money to love his children to make memories they will remember for a lifetime.

They will remember they were hungry, hungry hippos when they were kids, that’s for sure.

Money well spent for so much fun (never mind the noise), that’s what I think!

All this blog's PR Stuff Fatherkao loves... Food, glorious food! Happy days The Kao Kids

Any time’s a good time to eat cake! – An early Father’s Day celebration courtesy of Emicakes

June 4, 2014

The kids were up to something last week. I told them a cake would be delivered for their father so we could celebrate Father’s Day (which falls on 15 June this year) in advance, and they quickly got to work.

They took out crayons and paper, and started drawing furiously.

“To surprise Dada!” they said, and began to put on paper the messages they wish to convey to their father.

And when their father returned from work, we surprised him with this lovely cake from Emicakes…

Emicakes Father's Day Cake

And a wall plastered with three drawings.

Kids' drawings 1

Kids' drawings 2

And what made their father even more surprised was the fact that he sunk his teeth not into a typical vanilla or chocolate cake we are so used to having because of the kids but gorgeously light and heavenly tiramisu. I figured he deserves to be indulged this way and selected one of his favourite cake fillings for his sweet treat.

And the best part of Emicakes’ tiramisu? It’s non-alcoholic and suitable for children too. Just look at these happy faces.

With Dada

Happy faces

Ooh, the glorious Italian cheese cake dipped in Nescafé® and cream cheese is just perfect for all of us! This is cake happiness, all thanks to the generous people at Emicakes!


And to share this cake happiness, Emicakes is giving away THREE 20-cm Daddy-bowler-hat-and-moustache cake (with fillings of your choice) to THREE readers of this blog to celebrate Daddy-Awesomeness! To participate in the giveaway, simply follow this to qualify:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway ends 8 June 2014. Winners will be announced on 9 June 2014.

You can also indulge Dad this Father’s Day! Get a 15% off all featured Father’s Day cakes by 11 June 2014 and enjoy some cake happiness this year with Dad! For more details, check out Emicakes’ website or FB page.

Emicakes Promo

Disclosure: We were given a cake from Emicakes for the purpose of this review. No monetary compensation was received and opinions here are our own.

Fatherkao loves... Food, glorious food! Motherkao loves... Motherkao's recipes Product Reviews Reviews

Red wine ribeye seared with love, with compliments from OBE Organic

January 24, 2014

My husband and I love to watch Top Chef and MasterChef together. We get our inspiration to bake and cook from these reality shows. Besides being grippingly entertaining, they are really educational for noob cooks like us, and I always fantasised being able to serve up gourmet looking food all prettily plated and all some day.

Recently, OBE Organic sent us some Australian ribeye steaks, minced beef and beef cubes. Ooooh, how we love our beef! It didn’t take long before Fatherkao jumped into action, got into the kitchen and worked like a chef, taking inspiration from all the reality TV we’ve been watching.

And then single-handedly, he transformed this…

OBE Organic_ribeye

To this…

OBE Organic_Red wine steaks

In a matter of minutes! Looks like somebody’s gonna beat me in fulfilling that crazy dream of mine sooner than I think!

The ribeye steak seared perfectly by him and drizzled with the sauce he made was heavenly. Every bite melted in my mouth and the huge cut that Huber’s Butchery sent us for each portion was so huge it was truly satisfying. I am so not looking at my husband the same way again – man, this man can make a mean plate of steak, and with so much luuurrvve.

Talk about the way through a man’s heart. This woman’s heart has been won over and over with every time he steps into the kitchen. *swoon*

OBE Organic_Chef at work

I tried convincing him to share his recipe on my blog, and although he’s pretty hazy on the details and not giving me precise, exact measurements, I managed to make out what went into his red wine sauce.

Here it is; and oh yes, remember to get OBE Organic Beef which is certified 100% organic and natural, free of chemicals and growth promotants, and delivers amazingly great flavour.

Steak in Red Wine Sauce 


  • Ribeye steaks
  • knobs of salted butter
  • shallots and garlic
  • olive oil for frying
  • bottle of red wine (we used a full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot South African wine, Nederburg)
  • a dash of red wine vinegar
  • a ladle of chicken stock (we make ours with carrots, onions and chicken bones)


1) Fry shallots and garlic with olive oil till caramelised, then add a dash of red wine vinegar.

2) Add 4 glasses of red wine. Let the pan’s contents bubble until the wine has reduced by three-quarters.

3) Now add a ladle or two of chicken stock, butter and reduce the rest of the wine, 1-2 glasses at a time. Regularly skim away any impurities by weaving a small ladle in and out of the top of the sauce. Taste regularly and check for seasoning.

4) Heat a grill pan to sear the steaks with oil and cook them, turning once, 4-5 mins for rare, 7-8 mins for medium, 8-10 mins for well done.

5) Serve the steaks on a bed of greens and pour the red wine sauce around. Remember to pass the sauce through a sieve to remove fine impurities.

You can get premium quality organic beef from OBE Organic at Huber’s Butchery. Shop online till the cows come home at Huber’s or visit their Butchery and Bistro @ Dempsey.

Disclosure: This post was made possible from the kind folks from Huber’s and OBE Organic who fed the Kaos really good stuff from really good cows.

P/S: Just cannot resist the pun!

Also linking up with:

Ben Kao Everyday fun! Fatherkao loves... Milestones and growing up What to Expect... As a Mother

From two to four, of toys and more

November 25, 2013

This post chronicles my son’s development over the years, particularly his changing obsessions with toys and characters.

This post is written for parents with little boys – I’d like to offer you a glimpse of what you might encounter the next few years raising your son.

This post is about the many phases of boys and their toys, and what weekly emails from parenting websites like Baby Center never warned you.


Vehicles of every kind

At two, my firstborn was crazy about construction vehicles. As soon as he started talking, he started learning the different names of the huge trucks he saw on the roads – excavator! concrete mixer! dump truck! he would try to say.

First trucks

And so very quickly he got himself a whole load of these toy vehicles to play with.

A few months later, he started liking trains. He became fascinated with someone called Thomas and all his (goddamn expensive) creepy round-faced friends. He got an entire collection of die cast trains for Christmas that year.

Thomas and friends

When he turned three, his obsession with cars started, which very incidentally, also got his father (the bigger boy) extremely excited. They started amassing Tomica die casts and building tracks of all kinds, which very quickly consumed them to the point of obsession. They would sit together to watch cars move from Point A to B after building those massive car tracks that take up half the space in the living room for hours on end.

Car track

Unfufilled childhood dreams

I never understood the point of it, but apparently, it was like being in car heaven for these boys.

Handy Benji

After the car phase, Ben’s curiosity with tools began, in part because he started watching a series called Handy Manny on Disney Junior and in part due to observing his father work with tools to build the stuff we bought from IKEA.


And just like that, I suddenly had a handy little man at home overnight, “working” with hammers, screwdrivers and spanners. It was a very noisy phase indeed as he went knocking around the house all day and night.

Building blocks and Lego

When tools became passé for him, he spent hours creating things from his imagination with his Lego blocks.


Lego Quadro

He made all sorts of stuff – stuff we can never make out, stuff which existed only in his mind, and a whole range of playthings from dragons to zoos to carnival grounds. Whenever he came to us to show us what he’s made, we’d say, “Wow, that’s amazing! What’s that?” but it never deterred him from making more and fuelling our own imagination too.

Dinosaurs, wild cats and animals of all kinds

Between playing Lego and sometimes revisiting earlier obsessions like his toy cars and tools, Ben started getting curious about animals, particularly those prehistoric giants that have gone extinct a long time ago.


That was when we threw him a dinosaur party. That was when I also had a challenging time learning all those five-syllable names of dinosaurs talking dinos with him all day long (oh yes, the pterodactyl flies! oh wow the acrocanthosaurus ate these! watch out, here comes the nedoceratops!). I’m telling you, the dino phase was the one most tiring ever! I’m actually secretly hoping Nat skips that cos’ I ain’t wanna name another dinosaur ever in my life.

At four, Ben moved from dinosaurs to animals – farm animals, zoo animals, safari animals. There was this time he was particularly interested in big wild cats. Ask him now and this boy can tell you the difference between a leopard, cheetah and puma. Ask him now and he can also tell you also why the tiger and the lion are both kings in their own respect. He knows where these cats live, what they eat and their different characteristics. Because of his interest in animals, he’s pored over many encyclopaedic books all by himself at home and at the library just to learn more about them.


Bam! Bam! Bam! Kababoom!

Nerf battle

Ah yes, weapons. How can I forget? Sword, shield, bow and arrow, oh yes, and GUNS. So my four-year-old, together with his sister and baby brother now, are so into them. In the beginning, I was one determined mother who swore that I would never allow my kids to play with toy weapons. Not even water guns in the pool. Everyone has an informal causation theory that playing with guns leads to aggression and violence, and I am one big believer of this theory. Unfortunately for me, and fortunately for the kids, their father thinks otherwise. “No link!” he says. “This is what boys play!”

And that was how I lost the battle against weapons.

Actually, what made me not insist any longer was this piece of research I found online:

According to Michael Thompson, PhD, child psychologist and author of It’s a Boy!  Your Son’s Development From Birth to Age 18, children learn how to control impulses, delay gratification, think symbolically, and view things from another’s perspective through imaginary games. Play also allows children to act out their fears and aspirations. “As a little boy, you’re not very powerful,” Thompson says. “With a gun, you feel powerful and heroic.” According to Thompson, it’s really about dominance and heroism, winning and losing, and who gets to be the good guy in the end. Of course, when there’s hurt and aggression involved, that must be stopped by the adult.

So the kids started playing with Nerf guns with their father (I shared here about Fatherkao making dinosaur target boards to play with the kids, and it was great for hand-eye coordination!), “smiting” one another with swords and learning how to defend themselves with shields and playing with bows made of plastic and arrows that had suction cups.

Sword play

Ben the Knight

Ben also started watching the animation series Mike the Knight and was immersed in a world of bravery and chivalry, and dreamt of knighthood day and night for months.

More than meets the eye

Transformer fever

Three months shy of his fifth birthday, some creatures that can change their bodies at will have started to dominate his world. Intelligent robots, called Transformers that could think and feel, are now his favourite playthings, and he’s experiencing a fascination with these species of “living robotic beings” with a curiosity and obsession I’ve never seen. He’s fired me with questions after questions about these beings after watching the movie, and finally took out his Transformer toys which he never really could figure out or understand in the past that were given to him as gifts. He now talks to them and about them all the time, and functions in a world of Transformer-speak that has a huge invisible sign warning everyone else to keep out.

Transformer love


As I mentioned, this post is about boys and their many toys. Although I write from my experience with one boy, I’m sure what I’ve shared isn’t just specific to Ben alone.

Comparatively speaking, the little girl doesn’t seem to have obsessions of these varieties. She’s ok with stuffed toys, dolls, girly things and masak-masak play like cooking, cleaning and other domesticated things but has never dwelled on it every single day liking just one particular thing for months! I’ve not ever stereotyped toys for my boys, not at least before they were three. Ben plays with dolls and engages in play activities like cooking and cleaning occasionally with Becks and Nat, but it’s interesting how his preferences and interests have geared towards things with masculine attributes all on its own, and turned into phases of obsessions which are going to be so unique to him to remember his childhood by.

And it’s incredibly amazing how God wired boys. From what I understand, these boys remain, umm, boys, for a long time even in adulthood with bigger, better toys. Quite apparently, the one person that influences Ben’s interests in toys is himself one big boy looking to relive his childhood too. You should see the look on both their faces whenever they are in a toy store. (Right, Fatherkao?) 

I know more exciting times lie ahead as my little boy turns 5, then 6, then 7, and I am thinking the Justice League of Superheroes, war soldiers, and more Transformers already!

Everyday fun! Fatherkao loves... Happy days

Hide and Seek Almonds

November 6, 2013

Almond Treasure Hunt Picto-guide:

1. Buy almonds
2. Pack almonds
3. Hide almonds
4. Prep kids with baskets
5. Give clues to search only lit areas in the house
6. Count the loot
7. Break almonds
8. Eat almonds

Almond treasure hunt
Almond-mentary, dear Watson.

This post first appeared on Fatherkao’s FB page. He was the one that prepped and executed the entire activity on a cold rainy evening as heading out was impossible.

Also linking up with:

All this blog's PR Stuff Fatherkao loves... Food, glorious food! Happy days Motherkao loves... Product Reviews The Kao Kids

Smooth Operator (with help from the all new Philips Jamie Oliver Blender)

July 25, 2013

No, I’m not referring to Sade’s lover boy with diamond life.

I’m referring to this man who’s been in the kitchen lately, making after-dinner drinks for the kids and winning their hearts:

Smooth(ie) Operator

Smooth(ie) Operator

Thanks to the all new Philips Jamie Oliver Blender, Fatherkao is now the official Smooth(ie) Operator in our house. With mangoes in season, a 600-W blender with a two-speed pulse setting, a high quality 1.5-litre jar and titanium-coated 5-star serrated blades, he’s been wowing the kids with his smoothie creations effortlessly using this new kitchen tool.

The all new Philips Jamie Oliver Blender

The all new Philips Jamie Oliver Blender

He throws in ripe mangoes with lemon sorbet, some fresh lime and mint leaves, and pulse everything with crushed ice. Some days he adds a dash of milk and some days a splash of orange juice.

The ingredients for a refreshing mango smoothie

The ingredients for a refreshing mango smoothie

And the kids go on an all-time high waiting for their desserts after dinner…

Act 1, Scene 1: Impatience

Act 1, Scene 1: Gimme, gimme!

Act 2, Scene 1: More impatience

Act 2, Scene 1: Can’t wait! Gimme!

Act 2, Scene 2: Smoothie ready!

Act 2, Scene 2: Smoothie ready!

And going totally ecstatic to the point of declaring this:

Ben: Mama makes smoothie a little bit nice. But Dada makes the NICEST! Next time, when Mama wants to make smoothie, we’ll call you, ok, Dada?

Yummy yum yum, they say

Yummy yum yum, they say!

Now, that’s how the Smooth Operator stole my thunder and became the latest hero in the kitchen, with an uncomplicated blender who does all the work for him!

Keep life simple with the PHILIPS | Jamie Oliver range which includes a food processor (S$268), handblender (S$128) and blender (S$108). Available at leading electronics and departmental stores.

Disclosure: I received the Philips Jamie Oliver Blender for the purpose of writing this. This post is the second in a series of sponsored conversations on behalf of Philips Singapore. All opinions are my own. And yes, I am jealous that what I make for the kids is only “a little bit nice” but that’s just because I lent Fatherkao my Philips JO blender.

All this blog's PR Stuff Fatherkao loves... Product Reviews The Kao Kids What to Expect... As a Mother

Be a breastfeeding dad [A post for fathers]

June 7, 2013

Postpartum. Day 1 to 30.

The hormones are raging and she’s on the verge of slipping into those scarily depressing postnatal blues. A fragile little thing is rooting all the time and suckling at her breast round the clock.

She gets no rest.

Overactive let-down. Engorgement. Blocked ducts. Mastitis. These are the “good” problems if she has more than enough milk.

Poor latch. Nipple pain. Cranky, whiny baby. The problems when she doesn’t have enough.

The first 30 days postpartum, she’s likely to be thinking: How can I ever do this, this thing called breastfeeding?

Enter the valiant knight in shining armour. She calls him the husband. How he supports her during this trying period will be the key to her breastfeeding success.


Dads, you can be a support to a nursing mother (must be your wife, yes?!) in very practical ways. You can show her you are with her in this, besides saying, “I love you, honey, you can do it” so that she finds the strength to persevere in the days of breastfeeding madness.

Here’s how.

Be a breastfeeding dad in FOUR simple ways:

1. Help with the little things

Sitting close to her while she’s nursing, putting your arms around her just so she knows she can count on you for support, giving her neck and shoulders a good rub, bringing her a glass of water or propping her tired legs up on a footstool are just some of the little acts of love you can do to show that you’re emotionally and mentally with her in this. You can also take over with a bottle feed once or twice a day, so she gets a break, and you get to bond with the baby. And do you know, by being around to massage the baby while she is nursing, you can stimulate the baby’s physical and mental development too?

So dads, jump in when you can. Pays great dividends in the long run.

2. Shoo fly, don’t bother me

Your wife doesn’t need an audience to tell her whether she can or cannot breastfeed. Sometimes, the older folks would come by with their well-meaning advice. And sometimes, you have to play the villain by telling the confinement lady and the aunty-mom folks to shut their nagging up. Most importantly, as a couple, whether you choose to breastfeed or bottlefeed, be at peace with your decision and shut your ears out to the world who may have a hundred and one things to say to you.

I’m very appreciative of the fact that my husband put his foot down and told everyone who had a comment to make (especially my first confinement lady, gawd’ she’s a nagger alright!) during my first few weeks of struggling that he’d appreciate it if they let us handle the challenge by ourselves (nicely, of course). Well meaning or not, it’s our baby, and we certainly don’t need the extra stress from anyone else.

3. Invest in a good breastpump

If you see her having trouble nursing during those first few weeks after giving birth, it pays to get a good electric breastpump for her. Especially if baby isn’t able to nurse enough for her to build up her milk supply. Selecting a good one will help keep her milk flowing and prevent plugged ducts or an infection.

I recommend getting one that is fully automatic, has adjustable suction levels to prevent nipple discomfort and is designed to mimic a baby’s sucking patterns, like the Philips AVENT single (or double) electric Comfort breastpump, which allows her to sit more comfortably with no need to lean forwardgently stimulates natural let down and milk flow, and lets her choose from 3 pumping settings to be at her most comfortable.

The single electric Comfort breastpump

The single electric Comfort breastpump

4. Send encouragement her way

Yes, I did say that little kind acts are better than “I love you, hun, you can do it” but it’s nice to hear some positive words from you once in a while. So please, please, go tell your wife, the mother of your child, that she’s still babe in your eyes and oh-so-sexy, cos’ well, it sure feels like crap to be nothing but a 24/7 milk machine and still looking five months preggers.

Most importantly, if you were to show the slightest sign of giving up too, you could be negatively affecting your exhausted postpartum wife to do her best for your baby. Sorry dude, in this mega project called ‘Breastfeeding Baby’, you’d have to be the stable one to encourage her to continue with the gig until everything is established.

I was very blessed to have a breastfeeding dad in the house who would be involved in every possible way so that I always have someone to count on for support, and not feel that I was in this all by myself.

Behind every breastfeeding mum

Fatherkao, the breastfeeding dad, with Ben, Becks and Nat (clockwise)

He’s bought me breast shields (first in M size, then L, then XL – imagine his embarrassment when he kept returning to the store), read up and bought me my first breastpump (preloved, from a forum – imagine his embarrassment collecting it), asked female colleagues (who are mothers) how to help boost my milk supply (the Chinese will tell you soup, soup and more soup), made countless trips to the pharmacy to get fenugreek, nipple cream and lanolin ointment, and the market to get green papayas for soup every week during the confinement period.

This breastfeeding dad in our house also bought me a whole array of breastfeeding accessories ranging from the nursing pillow to the nursing poncho and all the different brands of breastpads, in addition to doing the four things mentioned above, three times in a row. Because of him, our three kids have had Mama’s elixir of milky goodness for almost 30 months put together.

Most fathers feel that breastfeeding is between mother and child. It doesn’t have to be so. It can involve you. Yes, dad, you. Together, as a family, you can conquer this and make postpartum days a lot easier to bear. And you don’t even need to wear fake boobs.

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This story was brought to you by Philips AVENT. Philips AVENT is committed to helping parents give their babies the best start in life, with breastfeeding accessories that help along the way. Every Philips AVENT product is designed with mom and child in mind, and is intuitive, reponsive and easy to use. Their premium quality products support a mother’s choice to breastfeed, bottle feed or do both, by giving her the assurance that they are flexible and designed to support her and her baby.

To look out for more to come from Philips AVENT:

Disclosure: I reviewed the single electric Comfort breastpump and Natural range feeding bottles in earlier posts. This post is part of a series of sponsored conversations by Philips AVENT.