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Ninja-wannabes training programme – Launch of Legoland’s Ninjago Ride

November 7, 2016

My boys have three loves when it comes to LEGO – Chima, Nexo Knights and Ninjago. A long time ago, these Lego TV series and their characters sound like ridiculously made up words to me: Moltor, Lavelle, Merlok, Fangpyre, Garmadon, Spitta, Samukai, Ming (the name of a ghost!), Morro, Kruncha, Frakjaw, Bonezai… (and I can go on and on) – but these days everything in all these three series have found seamless integration into our daily vocabulary at home, especially with the kids.

The good thing is, each of these series has at least one or two female characters, so Becks is usually not left out.

And if all three kids had to pick a favourite – it has to be the Ninjago series, where the elusive world of ninja-hood is made accessible to them, and where it’s absolutely cool to wield ninja weapons like the sword, the shuriken, nunchuks, the scythe, and the sai,  and learn kungfu moves.

Correction (as rectified by Ben): The ninja heroes – Kai, Jay, Cole and Zane; and later Lloyd and Nya, train under Sensei Wu to master an ancient martial art called Spinjitzu. It’s not kungfu, alright.

It was only just a while ago they were completely clueless about these ninjas and their stories.

So when LEGO Ninjago World finally opened on 4 November in Legoland Malaysia, my ninja warriors at home declared that they absolutely have to head there to check it out.

They have been hearing so much about the new ride and have been anticipating its launch since our last visit to Legoland.

And so to Legoland we went over the weekend, despite the jam, the rain and the sick mother.


It was drizzling all of last Saturday but that never once dampened any ninja-wannabe’s spirit to defeat their enemies.

The ninja-wannabes entered Ninjago World with much anticipation and respect to Master Wu (hurhurhur, the joke internally is that Master Wu is me because that is my surname), and met their favourite Ninjagos in brick form.

Always ninja-ready! The boys had company this trip!

Always ninja-ready! The boys had company this trip!

Nat with his favourite Ninjago

Nat with his favourite Ninjago

With Cole the black ninja

With Cole the black ninja

We so don't need any lightning now, Ben

We so don’t need any lightning now, Ben

Check out the awesome Mountain Shrine made of bricks where Ben tells me the ninjas train in private. And Nat says, "My face is like that because I am Lloyd and he is very angry."

Check out the awesome Mountain Shrine made of bricks where Ben tells me the ninjas train in private. And Nat says, “My face is like that because I am Lloyd and he is very angry.”

All ready for ninjahood!

All ready for ninjahood… and the 4D adventure!

Ninjago The Ride, we hear, is the very first of its kind in Asia. The new 4D ride enables guests to use their hands to throw virtual lightning bolts, move shockwaves, send ice soaring and emit fireballs with incredible accuracy – and you can feel the heat and cold too! With teamwork (maximum 4 in a car), ninja wannabes can become their favourite characters and defeat enemies, from snake tribes, ghosts and skeletons to the Great Devourer under the guidance of Master Wu.

So it was NINJA…GO from the get go!

There's a gallery indoors leading to the ride which made Becks the happiest because she found her long lost sister, Nya

There’s a gallery indoors leading to the ride which made Becks the happiest because she found her long lost sister, Nya

Nya's story told in pictures

Nya’s story told in pictures

Lots of visuals to look at while meandering towards the queue

Lots of visuals to look at while meandering towards the queue

And you can also stop to fix bricks on brick murals

And you can also stop to fix bricks on brick murals

And finally...

And finally…

The two littles insisted they were afraid and needed to be with me. They gamely put on those 3D glasses nonetheless...

The two littles insisted they were afraid and needed to be with me. They gamely put on those 3D glasses nonetheless…

And so it was, that the camera captured us this way…

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And this way, for the car in front of us!

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Throwing virtual projectiles with mere hands in an indoor ride away from the rain, by the way, was a brilliant idea, especially since we were there on a day the rain didn’t seem to go away.

And it’s an awesome and exhilarating experience, I tell you – the ride features a ride track of more than 400 feet, 10 scenes and 39 projectors that spin you round and take you high and low, immersing you in a 4-dimensional interactive adventure as a ninjago.

So awesome was it I went twice with the boys (Becks went once and declared ninjahood this way isn’t for her, haha) and my arms are now aching from shooting fire and ice at villains that came charging in my face.

Coming in 3rd with a 6-figure score! Not bad considering I shot all the shurikens of ice and swords of fire

Coming in 1st with a 6-figure score for the first round! Not bad considering I shot all the shurikens of ice and swords of fire

And 3rd on our 2nd attempt. This time round the boys said they will be sharper and faster, but I still think I did all the work!

And 3rd on our 2nd attempt. This time round the boys said they will be sharper and faster, but I still think I did all the work!

The boys felt as though they received a badge of honour having been trained by the simulation ride to be proper ninjas with proper ninja moves. They have, henceforth, officially declared to have undergone the tutelage of Sensei Wu and emerged “trained”.

I, for one, am declaring that I have officially mastered the snake move in Spinjitzu. See above last picture. I’m like the most awesome ice and fire snake-style ninja.

The ninjas will be working hard overtime fighting imaginary villains, for sure, back at home. After receiving tough training like this, I forsee my boys applying what they learn, complete with throwing REAL projectiles now.

Cue ‘Everything is awesome‘ Lego movie theme song.

~~~

LEGOLAND® Malaysia Resort announced the opening of its latest hi-tech attraction, LEGO® NINJAGO™ The Ride, the very first of its kind in Asia, on 4 November 2016. Visit LEGOLAND® Malaysia Resort’s official website or contact LEGOLAND ® Malaysia at +60-7-597 8888 and stay connected with LEGOLAND Malaysia Resort’s social handles (Facebook & Twitter) to find out more about their online promotions.

Disclosure: We were invited to Legoland Malaysia – whose hospitality for the Kao family is immeasurably awesome, as always – to review this ride. All opinions of ninjas, ninjahood and ninja training are our own.

All this blog's PR Stuff Holidays! The Kao Kids

A Brick-or-Treat kind of Halloween party at Legoland Malaysia

September 30, 2016

If you know my kids and have been following this blog for a while, you would also know that they aren’t fans of Halloween. You should see how they run and refuse to look at the Halloween costumes, masks and tricks on sale at Cold Storage this time of the year.

They literally squeal and turn tail in horror.

Only recently have they been able to crack some jokes about bloody eyeballs and vampire teeth, but even then I can tell they are not fans of ghouls, ghosts, Frankies and vamps.

“They don’t exist in this world!” they would declare. “And we don’t like to see all these monster, so scary!”

So what is a mother to do when she received an invitation to head to Legoland Malaysia – yes, Legoland, the kids’ favouritest place after the Singapore Zoo and Port of Lost Wonder – to join their Halloween party?

To go or not to go, was the question.

“Maybe we will see superheroes?” Becks asks hopefully.

“If we see monsters we just punch them lor,” Nat quips.

“I don’t think it will be scary lah,” Ben says, not ever, in any way, for every Lego-loving fibre of his being, giving up a chance to go to Legoland.

So to Legoland Malaysia we went last Friday – in anticipation for a not-scary, superheroes-kind-of-a-day-out and looking forward to having Nat punch monsters in their faces in case we saw any.

And I tell you we DID NOT attend a party which was imagined by the kids like any of the above.

Here’s why.

Legoland Malaysia REALLY took organising their Halloween party seriously.

Picture Credit: Legoland Malayisa Resort

Picture Credit: Legoland Malayisa Resort

Lord Vampyre's Maze Picture Credit: Legoland Malaysia

Lord Vampyre’s Maze
Picture Credit: Legoland Malaysia

Lego building activities Picture Credit: Legoland Malaysia

Lego building activities
Picture Credit: Legoland Malaysia

Halloween inspired all round the park Picture credit: Legoland Malaysia

Halloween inspired all round the park
Picture Credit: Legoland Malaysia

Think full-on dressing up (which we didn’t because we left our token superheroes capes in the luggage in the car and Fatherkao could only joined us much later at night!), elaborate Halloween food and desserts, full turn out of monsters dancing in a parade and tricks galore, including sneaking up behind you in the dark and boo-ing the s***s out out you, like while you’re enjoying the cool of the night and have completely let your guard down. Of course,the treats, which would make the scaring forgettable because the party promises to fill each treat bag to the brim with sponsored goodies.

Halloween inspired food with "worms" and "nails" and "spiders'

Halloween inspired food with “worms” and “nails” and “spiders’

Ben, brave enough to go around getting pictures. Featuring The Perfect Father's Spiderboy!

Ben, brave enough to go around getting pictures. Featuring The Perfect Father‘s Spiderboy!

The monsters are out!

The monsters are out!

And ready to dance! See their dance vid on on IG!

And ready to dance! See their dance vid on my IG

It was that kind of party.

It was also the Kao kids’ first that kind of party.

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Legoland Malaysia Resort has been throwing Halloween parties and this October isn’t gonna be any different; in fact, it’s promising to be bigger, better and more spooktacular. I hear park hours will be extended to 8.30pm on Brick-or-Treat Party Nights (Fridays and Saturdays) and any kid who turns up in costume enters for free.

I don’t know about you, but we were sure glad to have the extended park hours for the sheer fact that the sun sets in the evening and the theme park is finally cool enough for us to function.

This is a great idea, by the way. Well done, Legoland Malaysia! Good way to beat the heat and awesome to stand under in the coolest of evenings.

This is a great idea, by the way. Well done, Legoland Malaysia! Good way to beat the heat and awesome to stand under in the coolest of evenings.

And in the cool of the day, here’s four things we enjoyed at the Legoland Malaysia Brick-or-Treat Party last weekend.

Yea, we liked it, even if it was that kind of a party, such that we partied for two days!

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1. Watching other kids dress up and being awed by Halloween-inspired food and drinks

As part of the media invite and preview, guests were invited to dress up, and boy did we have a visual feast! The kids absolutely loved wowing at other kids in costumes.

Legoland Malaysia VIPs and the best dressed finalists Picture Credit: Legoland Malaysia

Legoland Malaysia VIPs and the best dressed finalists
Picture Credit: Legoland Malaysia

Ninja turtle! Spiderman! Vampire! Snow White! 

It was fun.

And funny too.

Everyone on stage!

Everyone on stage!

This won the best dressed by the way. The jumping hantu. The Chinese vamp hopping behind earned a consolation.

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Too funny!

2. Interactive Halloween Show with LEGO Frankenstein and LEGO Green Witch

What’s not to love, if at the end of the day, all the monsters can learn friendship and kindness? The thing about all the live shows at Legoland is that all’s well always ends well. The show was great in engaging the crowd and getting them to sing and dance. The cast and characters of this special Halloween show at Lego Kingdoms were funny and tickled us all to the bones.

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Picture Credit: Legoland Malaysia

Picture Credit: Legoland Malaysia

Picture Credit: Legoland Malaysia

3. Posing for photographs with Halloween-themed decor

Not fans of monsters, but now great posers when it comes to standees. The kids absolutely loved these photo opportunities. They were intrigued by these Lego standees throughout the Brick-or-Treat trail and wondering if there were minifigures for sale for their collection.

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I would buy them for sure – if there was a special Halloween minifigs box set – for the kids. Too cute!

Something to think about, eh, Legoland?

4. Getting treats from the Brick-or-Treat trail and making friends with monsters (except for Hut #5)

So this Brick-or-Treat trail that’s exclusively Halloween fun on Halloween party nights has 10 huts where a monster (read: real, grossly made-up people in costume) resides and gives away a treat when you approach him or her to collect a stamp. That is, if you’re even brave enough to approach each hut.

If you are brave enough to complete the entire trail, meet and greet those roving Halloween characters and complete activities requested of you, you’d receive a limited edition Halloween commemorative brick at the end of it all.

The Kao kids were initially pretty much freaked out after the monster parade, but decided that for the sake of getting the commemorative brick, they would brave the freaking and go trick a’treating. The little tokens of sponsored treats were indeed enticing, like getting packets of colour pencils from STAEDTLER, little notebooks from Canon, a tin pencil case from MILO, Ribena pastilles and Haribo gummy bears amongst many others; and the monsters from most huts were friendly and made sure to let the kids know that they were approachable.

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So it helped the kids let their guard down until we reached Hut #5.

By Hut #5, Nat was feeling all-so-brave and ever-ready to collect yet another goodie until the grim reaper? Dracula? asked in his sternest and scariest if he’s counted the bats in his maze.

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And poor Nat was so freaked out he bawled immediately and declared the trail (for him, at least) was over.

Which was all together TOO hilarious for me, my helper, and Ben and Becks. If you were there and you saw a crying kid that was refusing to count any bats, that would have been my son.

Thankfully, Ben and Becks were game enough to continue the trail and kept the good cheer laughing and befriending the monsters.

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The last and only "monster" Nat was willing to pose with after Hut #5. That's cos' he is a wizard who's wise and waves a magic wand!

The last and only “monster” Nat was willing to pose with after Hut #5. That’s cos’ he is a wizard who’s wise and waves a magic wand!

The Spooky Miniland Tour was what we stayed away from though. The kids really couldn’t handle the ghouls in their makeup and frightening stance walking towards them and pointing at them or randomly breaking out into laughs which terrified them IN THE DARK, especially Becks and Nat. I had to beg some of them not to frighten my kids, and thankfully, these lovely ghouls (bless their souls) broke into smiles and explained to the kids that they were just pretending.

Phew. (If you like frights unlike my kids, get ready for a frightful tour of Miniland at sunset where you’ll enjoy Lego Fun Facts and spine-tingling storytelling sessions at selected clusters.)

There was also a host of Halloween activities at the Legoland Hotel Lobby and the kids enjoyed the Three Magic Witches performance. Ben also took part in the Witch Cat Building Challenge and made a black cat in 25 minutes. He loves any Lego challenge and he made the cat from scratch following the instructions in the given time and beat his opponents.

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So proud of this boy!

We were here staying at the hotel earlier this February celebrating the boys’ birthdays which was really memorable with the entire Di Mattoni crew breaking out in song for the birthday cake cutting. This time round, it was a completely different experience and I am glad we got to enjoy Legoland – its theme park, water theme park and hotel – in a Halloweenish kinda way for a change.

It was thrilling for the kids and now with hindsight about how the characters were people in disguise, they could talk freely about the monsters, both as human pretend form and as LEGO mascots.

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The Legoland Water Theme Park was as usual lovely – no ghouls lurking around, thank God – and so was the hospitality we received at the hotel. We extended another night and returned to the theme park once more for the Halloween Party in the cool of the day, conquered more rides and basked in the atmosphere of lit Jack-o-lanterns, funky scarecrows and Lego people and “monsters”.

Bring it on, Halloween, I think the kids are a little more daring after Brick-or-Treat at Legoland now!

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~~~

More Details:

  • Brick-or-Treat Halloween Party Nights are happening at Legoland Malaysia this weekend and for every weekend in October! 

SELECTED DATES  : September (16-17, 23-24, 30)   October (1, 7-8, 14-15, 21-22, 28-29)

TIME                            : 4pm – 8.30pm @ RM85 per entry

LOCATION                 : LEGOLAND® Malaysia Resort’s Theme Park

ACTIVITIES               : Brick or Treat Trail

LOCATION                 : LEGO® Kingdoms

Parks hours are extended to 8.30pm on Brick-or-Treat Party Nights and any kids (3 – 11 years old) who come dressed in costume gets free entry from 4pm

  • LEGOLAND® Hotel will also be featuring a special Halloween Day & Night Hotel Promotion:

Booking Period: 25 Aug – 30 Oct 2016

Stay Period: 18 Sep – 31 Oct 2016

What Halloween heroes will get:

  • Daily breakfast
  • Dinner for 2 adults and up to 3 children below 6 years old (3rd adult or child above 7 years is chargeable at RM95/adult & RM50/child)
  • Halloween Brick-Or-Treat Commemorative Brick (one brick per child in room, while stocks last)
  • Day & Night Hotel Halloween activities

There’ll be many exciting activities that will be hosted by the hotel which include LEGO® Colouring, Witch Cat Building Speed Challenge, Ghostly Bowling, Three Magic Witches musical performance, Little Chef Pastry Making and lots more.

~~~

Disclosure: We were invited to Legoland Malaysia to join them in their Halloween party. No monetary compensation was received and all opinions here are our own. Including how Nat needs you to know he would conquer Hut#5  for sure the next time.

All this blog's PR Stuff Becks Kao Going Out!

Becks’ princess dream come true – ft. Singtel & Disney’s Dream Big Princess Academy

July 22, 2016

I have a little girl.

I did not start her life by reading her fairy tales.

She did not complete watching most of the Disney princess classics. She couldn’t sit through Snow White because the witch asking the magic mirror who the fairest was sent shivers down her spine. She was terrified of the stepmother in Cinderella. She feared Ursula in Little Mermaid. The only ones she ever sat through were the later Disney movies, namely Tangled, Brave and Frozen.

But nothing stopped her from knowing who Rapunzel, Tiana, Cinderella, Aurora, Belle, Ariel and Snow White were, and liking every one of them.

Being with girls and hanging out with them in kindergarten educated Becks about the world of princess although each of their fairy tale – how they overcame adversity and found their prince charming plus the happily ever after – was something she was unfamiliar with.

You mean, Cinderella lost her shoe? Snow White’s dwarves have names like Happy, Dopey, Sneezy and Doc? Rapunzel’s hair was cut? Belle danced with a beast? I don’t know the story, I only like their hair, shoes and dress!

Can you sense my frustration? No matter how hard I kept her away from these, she was a girl enthralled in the world of princesses. Because?

“They are so pretty.”

~~~

So you can imagine she probably had the bestestestestestest ever day in her whole entire life when we were invited to this:

She dressed as Anna from Frozen

She dressed as Anna from Frozen

Whoa. The event came complete with personal aides doing up your hair and makeup, personal butlers serving you tea and food that’s fit for princesses. The only thing that’s missing is the talking animals.

Braiding her hair and putting on clips and a tiara

Braiding her hair and putting on clips and a tiara

Bit of blush and lip gloss fit for a little princess

Bit of blush and lip gloss fit for a little princess

There were all things pink and purple, dainty and pretty, glittery and shimmery available for eating.

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Sugar and spice and everything nice

Oh my, look at that dainty satiny shimmery shoe!

Oh my, look at that satiny, shimmery shoe!

Becks was all smiles that day. She was told that she was a princess in training and by the end of the day she would be a real princess.

All ready to go for training!

All ready to go for training!

She learned from Sophia the First to be gracious and how to curtsy.

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She learned from Cinderella that it’s important to perform acts of kindness. So she decorated a cookie for her dad.

Decorating a cookie to show someone an act of kindness

Decorating a cookie to show someone an act of kindness

Every bit the daddy's girl

Every bit the daddy’s girl

She learned from Rapunzel it’s important to be creative. She was tasked to make a lantern.

Putting glittery stickers on

Putting glittery stickers on

Actually she decorated it only. I MADE IT.

Little girls would need help to secure the slots in the paper and fasten the tealight battery candle inside it, for sure...

Little girls would need help to secure the slots in the paper and fasten the tealight battery candle inside it, for sure…

She also got to meet the princesses face to face and had courage enough to go alone to talk to Rapunzel.

'Mama, let's take a picture with Cinderella,' she said. 'Come with me.'

‘Mama, let’s take a picture with Cinderella,’ she said. ‘Come with me.’

 

'Oh, bye, Cindy'

‘Oh, bye, Cindy’

For Rapunzel, she's my favourite princess. I can go on my own.

For Rapunzel, she’s my favourite princess. I can go on my own.

A picture with Rapunzel

A picture with Rapunzel

She was one happy girl that day declaring that it was the “bestestestestestest day ever!” and I had a great time reminding her ever since that day to be kind and nice like a princess. Whenever she wasn’t kind to her brothers and started her hissy fits, I’ll tell her she’s a princess and not a wicked witch.

Works wonders ALL THE TIME.

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A trained princess now

More details:

Singtel launches The Walt Disney Company Southeast Asia’s suite of kids’ entertainment channels including Disney Channel, Disney Junior and Disney XD on mio TV’s Family+ Pack from 1 June, 2013. The channels will be available in dual languages (English and Mandarin).

Look forward to the next Dream Big Princess Academy. Subscribers who sign up or recontract get a serial code to secure a slot in the Dream Big Princess Academy.

Disclosure: We were invited by Singtel for this event and no monetary compensation was received. All opinions here are mine. I have nothing against fairy tales; I am of the opinion that my daughter not read any because there’s no need to dream about ‘someday my prince will come’ or any ‘happily ever after’ because life is life and we just got to roll with it and suck it up.

Going Out! Learning fun! Motherkao loves... Reviews The Kao Kids

4 places you absolutely need to play at this June holidays

June 19, 2016

We’re left with one more week to the start of school and if you’re back from your wanderlust and crazy travelling schedules finally to settle back, here’s 4 very enriching places to play at while you ease into the week before school reopens.  I’m recommending them because these places resonate with me so much about my beliefs on play (if you don’t already know I co-founded Trehaus and run the programmes in TrehausKids inspired by the Reggio approach, and moderate a group called ‘Let the Children Play (Singapore) on FB).

I believe in back-to-the-basics kind of exposure and providing children calming yet engaging and mind-stimulating opportunities. As far as my own kids are concerned, I pretty much want them to remember childhood like that. I advocate for children wondering, exploring and imagining as capable and curious individuals without too much adult interference. And I strongly believe that we should always ‘rope in’ the environment as the third teacher in a child’s journey of discovery, play and learning.

Bring back play at its purest, I say.

1. PLAYEUM

If you haven’t visited Playeum‘s new hands-on exhibition – Hideaways: Creating with Nature – you absolutely should. This new installation invites children to explore, observe, construct, reflect, innovate and engage with nature and natural materials through hands-on exhibits and interactive artists’ installations.

Led by Creative Director Jeremy Chu, and joined by artists’ collectives The People’s Atelier and Shogun Creatives as well as artists Madhvi Subrahmanyan, Isabelle Desjeux, Bartholomew Ting and Richard Kearns, each installation provides an interdisciplinary and engaging experience serving as an important reminder of the world’s ecosystem.

It was a full sensory experience here at Playeum and I watched my kids as they played with all 4 senses (except taste) and did a whole lot of observation. A whole lot. Rarely do I see bouts of silence from quiet observation and keen eyes. At Playeum, I witnessed my children engage in a kind of somewhat structured (yet at many times, free) play that stimulates cognitive thinking and critical questioning.

Some of the questions my children asked at Knock Knock, Who Lives There?:

Ben: How do you hide a camera in all the shrubs? You mean I can watch the insects live?

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Becks: Would the insects hurt me? Are they alive?!?!

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Nat: I can write to the insects?! Is that true?! How will they hold a pencil and reply me?

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It was a relief to have Isabelle Desjeux, the creator and artist behind the installation, on site that day we visited to answer all the Kao kids’ questions about insects, show them how to make sense of a bug hotel and all. Phew.

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Knock Knock, Who Lives There? invites children to view insects via special surveillance screens in their natural habitats and record what they see in a unique opportunity to get up close and personal with creepy crawlies in their natural environment.

Questions asked at Make Believe Hideaway:

Ben: We’re making ant homes? How? Are they going to let ants live here? What about termites? Can we let termites stay here too?

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Becks: Can we make this for a caterpillar? I’ll make a nice flower shape home!

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Nat: Eww, why is clay so sticky and also like powder on my hands??? MOM!!!!

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Make Believe Hideaway is an installation that invites children to experience playing with clay and building imaginary habitats inspired by nature, resulting in a collaborative installation.

Convos overheard at Sounds of the Earth:

Ben: Can we go outside? What’s that outside? Can these really be musical instruments?

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Becks: Hey look, guys! I found a watering can and flowers!

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Nat: (wandering away from Sounds of the Earth) HEY GUYS! COME SEE THIS!!!!

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Did someone mention termites earlier? Ewwwww…

Sounds of the Earth – Nature’s Ensemble is an interactive sound installation where children can create and build musical instruments with natural materials.

As you can see, my kids weren’t too immersed in any musical extravaganza. They couldn’t shake off the distractions of flowers and insects. We made music later nonetheless, on our way out.

Questions at Welcome to My World:

No questions asked actually. These kids just gravitated towards creation and construction. Immediately. Such pros.

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Later Ben did finally ask something and it was about tying the most secured knots. Which became a teachable moment between father and son, and great chance for his father to show his son what he’s learned as a scout.

Welcome to My World is where children can imagine a world where they are as small as insects and encouraged to create shelters on a giant scale. Lots of creative fun to be had here – without glue, or any man-made materials. Au naturel, for the win.

Like, like, like! that the four hours we were there equated to curiosity in action and translated to hunger for knowledge and interaction with natural materials to make sense of the world we live in.

This is an extremely well-conceptualised children exhibition with very strategic artistic direction to engage children to think about nature and its ecosystem. There’s no better teacher than nature itself, and Playeum has thoughtfully recreated a “classroom” for learning right within its doors. Amidst the bouncy castles, iPads and mobile phone games our children are growing up with, I’m so glad a place like this exists here where we live.

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More details: 

2. Imaginarium

Imaginarium at Singapore Art Museum @8Q is back for its second year. The annual children-focused exhibition is titled ‘Over the Ocean, Under the Sea’ this year, inviting adventurers of all ages to explore the watery realms of our Earth through immersive and interactive artworks from Singapore and beyond. It promises to be a whimsical introduction to the many stories and ideas that surround seascapes and presents tactile and interactive works that encourage discovery through exploration and play.

One of its key installations on the first floor is called Dimana Mogus – which is an awesome visual and sensorial burst of colours and textures made from knitted yarn displayed as coral reefs and sea creatures – has appeared on several IG feeds this entire month alone (#dimanamogus). My mom blogger friends have excellent visuals on this installation here (MummyEd) and here (growinghearts123) and you can read their reviews on this children-focused annual exhibition, back for its second year.

But what I’d like to draw your attention to is this particular installation which I feel needs to be given a mention here because it provided such an immersive experience walking through it. For me at least. It  struck a chord, created a poignant teachable moment for my kids and delivered an experience that no other exhibits and installations could.

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Aptly called Plastic Ocean, this installation was, in my view, tapped on the transformative power of art to confront the audience with a pressing issue.

In this case, the issue of ocean pollution.

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We walked through a sea of 14,000 pieces of non-biodegradables, and when we reached the end, I actually felt an unexplained sense of suffocation.

Suddenly it dawned on us that we have walked through this entire room like sea creatures, swimming in a dark world of floating trash.

Well, I really didn’t have to say much to the kids. But I did ask them how they thought the fishies would feel if this was their home. My kids looked at me with an overwhelming sense of helplessness, and I knew they got the message right away.

Plastic Ocean is the best reason, in my opinion, why you should pay Imaginarium a visit this year. Just for this experience alone is worth your while.

More details: 

Imaginarium: Over the Ocean, Under the Sea will be held at SAM at 8Q from 14 May 2016 to 28 August 2016.

Find out more about the exhibition and its programmes online at www.singaporeartmuseum.sg. You can also download the exhibition brochure here.

3. KidsSTOP™ at Singapore Science Centre

Recently, KidsSTOP™ launched a new exhibit that deserves a mention and many thumbs up for supporting and educating children about environmental conservation causes. Called ‘Ocean Buddies’, this new immersive and interactive exhibition and activity corner features 3-dimensional sea creatures to engage preschoolers and lower primary school goers on the topic of marine conservation.

Children will learn through experiential play by personalising their own sea creature (through colouring). They can then scan their sea creatures and watch them come ‘alive’ in the virtual ocean floor.

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I like that immersive technology was used to wow my kids. I’m pretty sure every child that participates in this would be awed too.

But what REALLY wowed me wasn’t the fact that the shark, puffer fish and clownfish that Ben, Becks and Nat coloured appeared on the virtual ocean and swam around but the fact that KidsSTOP™, in conducting this activity, was actually living the message of reduce, reuse, recycle.  They’ve partnered with Pilot Pen to educate the public about environmental conservation, and the kids were actually colouring with the world’s first pen with erasable ink!

The Pilot FriXon series used in the Oceans’ Buddies exhibit lets KidsSTOP™ reuse every single piece of paper coloured by each child. The ink is thermo-sensitive and disappears when subjected to heat at 65°C. Toshiba then comes in to provide the special ink recycling machine to emit heat and erase the ink on the paper, which then allows each sheet to be recycled and reused up to 5 times.

I get thrilled just knowing that trees won’t die for this Ocean Buddies’ cause of watching fishies swim virtually, and I am actually more excited learning the fact that corporates are practising social responsibility here.

I’m seriously considering stocking up on these Pilot FriXon pens and turning the thermostat on my oven to 65°C to save more paper with the kids doodling so much at home. Brilliant idea.

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More details:

KidsSTOP™ is located next to the Singapore Science Centre at 21 Jurong Town Hall, S609433.

Admission charges in this link here and operating hours here.

4. The TrehausKids Atelier!

This place gets an exclamation just because I co-founded it (*insert victory sign), and hence this disclosure: affiliation to mentioned organisation.

If you have very young children, this Reggio Emilia inspired Atelier is an aesthetically beautiful and open space for infants, toddlers and preschoolers to wander and wonder. Play becomes an organic process as the environment invites children to explore and discover. The facilitators in TrehausKids also engage children in child-centric activities like drama, art, sensory play and music.

We’re pretty much also in sync with all the main children’s exhibitions’ theme on conservation this month in all our provocations and invitations to explore at the Atelier. This month, we delve deep into learning about the earth being our home, its endangered species, and the flora and fauna around us.

I’ll let the pictures do the talking and I hereby invite you to come join us in play!

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More details:

Make the best use of the remaining one week, and bring back PLAY before the madness of school starts!

 

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10 reasons why we loved our staycay (yea, you heard me right) at Capitaland’s Sky Habitat

March 30, 2016

When I first received the invitation, I was stoked. And stunned. At the same time.

Say wwwhaaaat? A staycation at a condominium? Is that even allowed? Like for real, I get to stay in a condo apartment?

Like how cool is that? The kids were thrilled. And so were we. Plus the extended family.

So we made plans to go for a quick getaway back to the north (where we used to live and hang out) on the last weekend of January to see what this condo staycation had to offer. We found ourselves awed by this when we got to Sky Habitat at Bishan:

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This is Sky Habitat, located at Bishan Street 15

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The view from below

‘Say wwwhaaat?’ the kids exclaimed? ‘This is our “condo-hotel” for the night?’ They were all intrigued by the fact that it was like our typical staycation at a hotel stay except that we were not going to be in a hotel room but here, at a  3-bedroom condominium apartment:

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What it’ll look like if you lived in a 3-bedroom apartment unit in Sky Habitat

Truth be told, I secretly wished I could stay here forever.

Our staycation may be over, and we’re still pretty much hung over and bummed by the fact that we’re back to reality. Nonetheless, here’s 10 reasons why we really loved this staycay (or otherwise known as if-I-had-$-I-may-so-buy-this-place AND if-you’ve-got-$-you-should-really-consider-Sky-Habitat):

1. Taking a chill pill on the Sky Bridge

The Sky Bridges at Sky Habitat are located at levels 14, 26 and 38. And that’s like literally chilling out on top of the world. I mean, how cool is that to be looking at the clouds, lazing on one of those lounge chairs by day and looking up at the stars by night?

Our view of the Level 26 Sky Bridge from the room's balcony

Our view of the Level 26 Sky Bridge from the room’s balcony

Late afternoon lazing on the Sky Bridge on Level 38

Late afternoon lazing on the Sky Bridge on Level 38

Someone stands on the Sky Bridge on the 26th level and says she's on top of the world!

Someone stands on the Sky Bridge on the 26th level and says she’s on top of the world!

What's so amazing that keeps us stargazing? What do we think we might see?

What’s so amazing that keeps us stargazing? What do we think we might see?

Being on the Sky Bridge spelled relaxation for us right away, and we were happy to just look up into nothingness for once.

2. Dining at the Sky Terrace with family

During our staycay, we had food catered for 10 people, and so it was fitting that we did an early Chinese New Year reunion dinner at the adjoining Sky Terrace next to the living room. My parents and siblings came over, and we had a time of feasting and reunion at our staycation apartment on Level 19.

We could barely keep our eyes open - the wind was strong in this one!

We could barely keep our eyes open – the wind was strong in this one!

A very sumptuous spread, thanks to Capitaland and Neo Garden!

A very sumptuous spread indeed!

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Happy to be eating and watching the sun set

It was a meal with a view on a breezy evening, and a lovely time to be had with family.

3. Sports for all

Of course we had to see what the condo had to offer in terms of facilities! And like many other condos, Sky Habitat’s facilities include a gym, exercise corners, children’s playground, tennis courts and three swimming pools – the 50m lap pool, the children’s pool and the Sky Pool.

The 50m lap pool was just next to the tennis court, so while Ben, Fatherkao and my siblings had a go at swinging some rackets and picking up balls (hurhurhur), the gramps and their grandkids took a dip in the pool.

While Ben trained hard for tennis...

While Ben trained hard for tennis…

Grandpa and Grandma jumped in the pool...

Grandpa and Grandma jumped in the pool…

...And had a splashing good time with the Nat and Becks!

…And had a splashing good time with Nat and Becks!

We all paid some overdue exercise debts that day

We all paid some overdue exercise debt that day

4. Awesome skyline by the Sky Pool

This. This is the view. ‘Nuff said.

On the highest floor on the 38th level, we find this...

On the highest floor on the 38th level, we find this…

5. Private Movie Theatre

This is the super cool part of our stay. Sky Habitat has their very own private screening room.

Soundproof? Check.

Quality sound system? Yes, it’s a Bose. Check.

Super luxe seats? Check.

Snacks? All ready. (I think the little girl finished hers before the movie started.)

Super comfy lounge seats and an even super good reason to be with family

Super comfy lounge seats with front row tickets and an even super good reason to be with family

It’s movie time!

6. Luxe of Space

We stayed in a 3-bedroom apartment, and boy, do we love the living room space. Love it that everyone could lounge comfortably or look out into the skyline or hide in their little nooks and still be around with family.

The very spacious living area that can comfortably sit 10

The very spacious living area that can comfortably sit 10

Watching TV and lazing after dinner

Watching TV and lazing after dinner

With Nat busy capturing the faces of everyone

With Nat busy capturing the faces of everyone

Playing hide-and-seek in the study

Becks playing hide-and-seek in the study

Chilling out in the balcony - every room has a drool-worthy view, thanks to a spacious balcony

The kids chilling out in the balcony – every room has a drool-worthy view, thanks to a spacious balcony

Gong gong finding respite at the Sky Terrace

Gong gong finding respite on the Sky Terrace

Boys hanging out at the bar counter

Boys hanging out at the bar counter

Gives family bonding a new meaning, right here, without feeling any sense of overcrowding.

7. Chillaxing by the Children’s Pool

View of the pool from the 19th floor

View of the pool from the 19th floor

Just right below on the first floor is the Children’s Pool. Which our kids loved wading and get some endless pool-noodling fun. Fatherkao and I put on our shades and napped away amidst the palm trees, unblocked view and reclining chair in the water.

Pool-noodling in the wading pool

Pool-noodling in the wading pool

Chillax. Goodnight, world.

Goodnight, world.

A totally new way to chillax for us. A rest much sought after and well-deserved, in my opinion.

8. Simplicity

There are only 2 blocks of 38-storey residential flats (a total of 509 units) with two basement carparks, a landscape deck and other ancillary facilities. That’s all. The blocks are just Block 7 and Block 9 (hmm, someone tell me why – are they auspicious?) and that’s about as simple as it gets. Unlike those huge condo developments, you’ll never experience being packed like sardines in confined spaces. Nor do you need to meander round and round the basement carparks finding your apartment lobby and all. How lost can you get with only Block 7 or Block 9 to go to?

9. Convenience all around

3 minutes. All it takes is 3 minutes to walk to Bishan MRT Station (Circle Line and North-South Line) and Bus Interchange. Talk about convenience!

Walked across a big field and we were at Bishan Interchange in 3 minutes

Walked across a big field and we were at Bishan Interchange in 3 minutes

That's the convenience right under our nose

That’s the convenience right under our nose

Kids got their shopping fix at Junction 8

Kids got their shopping fix at Junction 8 – look at the loot!

We walked across a large field and got to Junction 8 in minutes, and did our Chinese New Year shopping at BHG for the kids.

10. 10-minutes drive to Bishan Park!

We can see Sky Habitat in the background!

We can see Sky Habitat in the background!

This was another highlight of our stay. We love Bishan Park. They boys love dogs and stood outside the dog park in Bishan Park for a long time, well, just watching the dogs go by. The little girl was happy to just run around and smell the flowers. It’s good to know that we can get a slice of nature amidst the concrete jungle, which is just a stone’s throw away.

Happy to be here

Happy to be here

Watching the dogs

Watching the dogs

And our leisurely stroll concludes our very relaxing weekend

And our leisurely stroll concludes our very relaxing weekend

Sky Habitat is what is to be the Habitat of the Future – a high-rise apartment but, in many ways, also a house. Each unit boasts a private garden or outdoor space that opens up to the sky. And when regarded collectively, the units are reminiscent of idyllic houses terraced along the Mediterranean hillsides, complete with alleys and walkways linking the community of homes on several levels. Given its unique collection of living qualities, Sky Habitat is really a new hybrid home. A house with all the conveniences and connectivity of a condominium. And a condominium with the openness, identity, and the private garden of a house.

It was a privilege to get a glimpse of this through our weekend stay there. It was a much needed respite for the tired, working adults, an enjoyable space for the children to engage and explore, and a simple yet forward-looking space for the family to bond and spend time together.

Thank you, Capitaland, for having us!

More details:

Sky Habitat is located in one of the most desired suburban residential areas in Singapore, with seamless connectivity to destinations such as the vibrant Orchard shopping belt, bustling Central Business District and Integrated Resorts, while Bishan MRT and Interchange is just at its door. The development is also surrounded by sought-after schools from Ai Tong School, Kuo Chuan Presbyterian Primary School & Secondary School, Catholic High School, Raffles Institution (Secondary) to Raffles Junior College and SJI International. It is also situated near heartland amenities and shopping centres like Junction 8, NEX, Ang Mo Kio Hub, Thomson Plaza, MacRitchie Reservoir, Bishan Park, Bishan Stadium, Sports Hall and Bishan Library.

 

Disclosure: We were invited by Capitaland and hosted by Formul8 for this staycation. All opinions here are our own. We went back to our own home after that weekend; and no, we didn’t get to stay there forever even though we wished!

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We are heading to a dazzling parade!

February 16, 2016

The ages of 7, 6 and 4 are wonderful. It’s convenient to bring the kids out, and they can carry their own barang. And they are fascinated – and finally no longer intimidated – by floats, dragon and lion dances and loud gongs.

Which is why we are so thrilled to be going to be heading to Chingay 2016 this Friday at the F1 Pit Building this year.

Themed ‘Lights of Legacy, Brighter Singapore’, Chingay 2016 will bring Singaporeans together to celebrate the legacy and wisdom of founding Prime Minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew and our Founding Fathers based on the core values advocated by them. Some of the key highlights of the parade include a 66-metre ‘flying’ LED dragon, aerial performances and the biggest full-scale illuminated show.

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We are going to be awed by the lights that light up the night, I am sure. I hear there will be over 8,000 performers forming up 50 parade contingents. Woah. Talk about SCALE.

It’s going to be a beautiful night. So glad I have older kids who would appreciate this with me now.

 

Get your tickets here if you haven’t, and see you at Chingay!

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We’re racing to the zoo, zoo, zoo – Safari Zoo Run 2016

January 17, 2016

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The littlest is 4 this year, which means we can *at last!* take part in the annual Safari Zoo Run! AND… we’re so thrilled that we don’t have to run run with the kids – like how we had to do 5-clicks for the Sundown Marathon last year with Ben. This year, we’ll participate in the Family Dash (going at 2.5km only!) which means we can all do it together quite effortlessly (I hope!), while being at one of our favouritest places in SG. We’ve been Friends of the Zoo for a few years now and it’s going to be special this year to be taking part in the Zoo Run as a family.

The Safari Zoo Run was conceived to commemorate Singapore Zoo’s famous matriarch and one of Singapore’s most loved animal personalities — Ah Meng the Sumatran orang utan, who died of old age in February 2008. But really, beyond remembering Ah Meng, it’s all about a time of family bonding, as well as raising awareness on wildlife conservation since portion of the proceeds from this year’s race will go towards aiding the conservation efforts of Singapore Zoo and Wildlife Reserves Singapore.

Definitely supporting conservation. Which is the reason why we’ll always be Friends of the Zoo.

If you’re big on conservation, and love a workout with your family, book your slots here for the Zoo Run which happens over 2 days!

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Note that Junior Category is open for 13 to 17 years old and the Kids Category is for 4 to 12 years old.

RACE DETAILS
Date: 27 & 28 Feb 2016, Sat & Sun
Time: 730AM – 11AM
Venue: Singapore Zoo
Targeted no of runners: 16,000 pax (8,000 per day)
Website: http://safarizoo.run/
Facebook: www.facebook.com/SafariZooRunSingapore

We’re dashing to the zoo, zoo, zoo… How about you, you, you?

All this blog's PR Stuff Food, glorious food! Going Out! Learning fun! Motherkao loves... Reviews The Kao Kids

Family Day Out at City Square Mall

December 27, 2015

If I could give out an award for the most family-friendly mall in the country, it has to be City Square Mall. I’m not just saying this because the kind folks from City Square Mall hosted us to a day out in November, but because every time I go to the mall (which is frequent enough), it’s like a one-stop for so many possibilities for every single one in the house. We’ve had lessons at Eye Level there since 2013, attended the ZooMoov launch party there, gone to Fun N Laughter for birthday parties, shopped at Babies ‘R’ Us for presents, ate at Food Republic, Astons, Swensen’s, Pasta Mania, Streats Hong Kong Cafe – all the food that the children liked, and chilled out for a cuppa at Delifrance and Starbucks when the kids were busy playing at a party or having lessons.

I really love this mall.

Like I was saying, the folks at the mall deepened my love for it even more when they hosted us for a family day-out last month and showed us even more things we could together as a family. It came at a time when I badly needed to spend quality time with my husband and children, and I am so grateful that I got to do that amidst the craziness at work.

First Stop: Art Jam for the Entire Family

I like the notion that we would be doing something so artistic (hurhurhur, like I am so in tune with my artsy self!) and yet so differentiated all at the same place. Which is what the entire hour (and a little more, I thought) was about at Global Art (04-23) to kickstart our Family Day Out. I had gotten my hands dirty and my nerves flustered once with acrylic painting – and then never tried it thereafter – so I was so glad that both the husband and I got the chance to learn the techniques step-by-step. What a difference a guided session makes. And how important it is to have a patient teacher, too.

Paying close attention to the teacher so we can model after her

Paying close attention to the teacher so we can model after her

Practising on paper first before starting on the canvas

Practising on paper first before starting on the canvas

Following the instructions on the task sheet and getting familiar with the palette knife

Following the instructions on the task sheet and getting familiar with the palette knife

And we started when we were ready!

And we started when we were ready!

Whilst the adults were busy learning the basics of acrylic painting, the Kao kids were equally engaged learning the techniques of colouring and shading with oil pastels, something I am grateful that they got to pick up. I am also impressed that teaching instructions and tasks were differentiated for Ben, Becks and Nat at our session at Global Art, and the kids were all engaged sufficiently.

It was crucial that the tasks were differentiated as each child was at a different skill level, and Global Art teachers made sure of that

It was crucial that the tasks were differentiated as each child was at a different skill level, and Global Art teachers made sure of that

All three of them of pressed on through the hour to complete their respective tasks.

Presenting the Kao Kids' masterpieces...

Presenting the Kao Kids’ masterpieces…

And so did Fatherkao and I!

And our completed flowers painted on canvas with acrylic paint!

And our completed flowers painted on canvas with acrylic paint!

Second stop: Flying on flavoured wings at Wingstop

When we were done with painting, our stomachs needed to be filled. Lunch was calling out to us in the form of wings. Chicken wings, that is. I thought the kids would be thrilled, but it turned out that I was more thrilled than them. This was like a dream come true, eating a buffet of flavourful, marinated wings and challenging my spice level at the same time. I thought Nene Chicken did it for me; but I’m happy to say Wingstop (B1-33) did more.

Did what?

Filled our tummies with American-style buffalo wings that contained too much goodness.

Warning: Drool-inducing pictures of food ahead First, the deliciousness of the salsa chips and fried mushrooms

Warning: Drool-inducing pictures of food ahead
First, the deliciousness of the salsa chips and fried mushrooms

And then they kept coming... This is Garlic Parmesan

And then they kept coming…
This is Garlic Parmesan

The Lemon Pepper and Louisiana Rub

The Lemon Pepper and Louisiana Rub

The Mango Hanebero

The Mango Hanebero

Teriyaki... And then my hands got too busy and too messy to be taking pictures

Teriyaki…
And then my hands got too busy and too messy to be taking pictures

Kids loved the Garlic Parmesan and Teriyaki, husband loved the Louisiana Rub and I loved the Mango Habanero best, although I also did challenge the Atomic.

Wingstop is all about “sauced and tossed, and made to order” chicken wings with 11 flavours to choose from – the first ten comes from the States: Original Hot, Cajun, Atomic, Mild, Teriyaki, Lemon Pepper, Hawaiian, Garlic Parmesan, Hickory Smoked BBQ and Louisiana Rub; and the 11th, the Oriental Soy Pepper is specifically made for the local market. It already is in 660 locations in the U.S; and this is its 2nd store in Singapore at City Square Mall. You have to absolutely try them to love them.

Nat loves the drumstick!

Nat loves the drumstick!

And this was me before I conquered the Atomic

And this was me before I conquered the Atomic

Third Stop: Becoming Baking Geniuses

All ready to bake

All ready to bake

When we were done with lunch, we proceeded to Genius R Us (07-07/08) for a time of mother-and-children bonding session. If you followed this blog since I first started, you would know I baked a fair bit with the kids and for the kids when I stayed home. Baking has always been therapeutic for me before the kids and when they were younger and could only assist in some tasks.

Unfortunately, I’ve become a little bit more OCD as the kids got older, and I’m quite sorry to say that I’m a pain in the neck when it comes to precision for measuring out ingredients, and becoming really, really fussy about mess.

So you can imagine me doing the happy dance inside when I learned that I would get to bake and not need to worry about cleaning up.

The Kao kids were really thrilled to be baking with Mama again, although I think the Mama three years ago (when we all started baking together) and the Mama now is very different; the former being more relaxed in the past and the latter now being a tad naggy. I had to constantly nag at the kids to listen to instruction, wait for me to help them with measurements and not break the eggs.

We're making ice cream cone pops today!

We’re making ice cream cone pops today!

My little bakers

My little bakers

My littlest baker

My littlest baker

And their ice cream cone pops

And their ice cream cone pops

Nonetheless, I think the kids did a terrific job despite their naggy mother. We had many cake pops to eat after that, and I had to nag them about hydration and pacing their chocolate intake. Well, the successful cake pops made everyone happy at least!

Last stop: Sweetness in Cocoa Heaven

Who was I kidding when I nagged about pacing chocolate intake with the cake pops? Our last stop was choco heaven and that was the most joyous part of the day for the kids. I think all nags from Mama was quickly thrown out of the window. Bring on the adrenaline, and the cocoa here at Cocoa Colony, is what they said.

And after the first few round of cocoa drinks, I succumbed too and asked for more.

Ordering our drinks...

Ordering our drinks…

From this list of Top 10 Faves at Cocoa Colony

From this list of Top 10 Faves at Cocoa Colony

And going 'wow' at all the desserts!

And going ‘wow’ at all the desserts!

We got to try the signature creations at Cocoa Colony (01-12) and learned about the history and origin of each cocoa gem in liquid form, solid form, gelato form and even powdered form. Cocoa Colony is a local company that believes in using quality cocoa in everything they make and sell, yet keeping prices affordable and accessible for everyone. That’s great news because the last time I went to another specialty cocoa place at the Esplanade some years ago, it dented my wallet a fair bit.

I’m hopeful now that we’ve all tried the deliciousness of the liquid gold that is cocoa in drinks, tasted it in gelato and savoured it in other forms like their Cocoa Bolas and chocolate bars at Cocoa Colony and can safely say that their avant garde cocoa isn’t any lesser in quality than the famous one we all know that’s moved to Vivo. I love the affordability at Cocoa Colony which gives me the option to try many more items on the menu.

We sampled the best cocoa in Cocoa Colony hot

We sampled the best cocoa in Cocoa Colony hot

...and cold

…and cold

I tried the pure cocoa in powder form

I tried the pure cocoa in powder form

And the kids couldn't stop savouring the gelato

And the kids couldn’t stop savouring the gelato

Oh well, cheers!

Oh well, cheers!

What a sweet, sweet end to the Family Day Out!

***

I couldn’t believe that I had spent ONE entire day doing so many things with the family, and that a mall with its family-friendly tenants provided this opportunity. All in all, it was a fruitful weekend well-spent with the family at City Square Mall, and I cannot say enough that it’s altogether impressive and convenient as a one-stop to do so many things!

Disclosure: We were invited to spend a day out with the family at City Square Mall and hosted by the kind people from the mall mentioned in this review. No monetary compensation was received and all opinions here are strictly our own.

***

LATEST EDIT: Cocoa Colony has since ceased operations at City Square Mall as of 2017. For a list of updated stores, visit their site here. The menu and drinks remain largely unchanged and are wonderful sweet treats to have to make your day, nonetheless.

Everyday fun! Going Out! Happy days Holidays! Milestones and growing up The Kao Kids

Overheard in Bangkok

December 19, 2015

We’ve been living here for close to 3 weeks now, and it’s almost feeling like we can live here forever. We love the food the people and the affordability. Guess the only thing we aren’t really loving are the crazy Bangkok jams, but hey, they didn’t call this amazing Thailand without them I am sure. This city has been so kind to us and we’ve had too many wonderful memories here, the funniest things ever said and heard (amongst ourselves) included.

***

Day 1

Ben: Why are there so pictures of this man?

Becks: What man?

Nat: The man wearing spectacles!

Ben: He’s everywhere! On buildings, on roads, on street sides and even inside shops!

Me: Erm, the Thais call him king, kids!

***

Day 2

Ben: Why do they have a king and we don’t?

Becks: We have! Mr Lee Kuan Yew, remember?

Me: -_-

(I had to explain constitutional monarchy and democracy to the kids, but I don’t think I did a very good job. Anyone wants to volunteer?)

***

Day 9, at Platinum Mall

Me: Ok, today’s shopping day so we’re going to be shopping non stop. Every floor has something for us to explore. I will need to get a lot of things.

Ben: Yes, like my pants. I have no more pants.

Nat: And my socks! And t-shirts!

Becks: And a hat! I want a hat.

Me: Ok, great! Let’s go.

Minutes later, after a few dizzying rounds of going up the escalator to find the food hall (which meant we saw what every floor of the mall had to offer)…

Becks: Mama…

Me: Yes?

Becks: I have only one wish.

Ben: What? Change your mind again?

Me: You want to buy dresses, is it? You must have seen enough Frozen dresses to last you a lifetime?

Becks: No…

Ben: You want shoes, is it?

Becks: No…

Me: Scrunchie?

Becks: My wish is to have a tiara. So I can be a princess!

Me and Ben: -_-

Wearing the tiara every day

Wearing the tiara every day

***

Day 12, at Asiatique in the day, walking past Juliet’s Garden

Me: This is what we visited in Verona when we were in Italy, kids.

Ben: Who’s she?

Me: Juliet. Well, we were told in Verona that when we rub Juliet’s left breast, we will find love and good luck.

Becks: What? We need to touch her left BRA????

Us: -_-

The love-locks filled garden on a hot day at Asiatique where nothing was open

The love-locks filled garden on a hot day at Asiatique where nothing was open

Verona's Juliet, looking all worn out (Photo Source)

Verona’s Juliet, looking all worn out (Photo Source)

Act 2, Scene 2: Capulet's Garden Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou, Romeo?

Act 2, Scene 2: Capulet’s Garden
Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou, Romeo?

***

Day 13, at Bangkok Railway Train Night Market

Me: I finally found it after searching for so long!

Ben: What?

Me: Good ol’ entertainment for 20 baht!

Ben, Becks, Nat: YAY! We have iPhones!

Me: We call it the Blackberry.

Ben: Ok, mine is.

Becks: Mine’s pink berry!

Nat: And mine’s green berry!

Me: -_-

New "phone"!

New “phone”!

Nat's new Greenberry

Nat’s new Greenberry

Ben with his Blackberry

Ben with his Blackberry

Becks and her Pinkberry

Becks and her Pinkberry

***

Day 14

Becks: See, I have an iPhone and I can play iPhone games.

Me: Yes, that’s right. Best ever.

Becks: And I can even take selfie!

Me: -_-

Becks taking a selfie while on our Safari Park self drive

Becks taking a selfie while on our Safari Park self drive

***

More ‘Overheard in Bangkok’ coming your way soon. Till then, here’s the reason we are here, and how we are eating like the locals.

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