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Happy days

(Self) Examination Happy days

Counting my blessings

April 4, 2017

Dear Lord,

What was on your mind when you gave me these?

KaoKids_Reminisce - Copy

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

Birthday Lunch_MotherkaoApr2017 - Copy

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

With these people in my life.

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

Birthday Cake_MotherkaoApr2017 - Copy

My heart is full.

And filled with gratitude.

Happy days

Happy Rooster Year!

February 9, 2017

Alright, no more monkeying around.

Time for a really cocky year.

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

Don’t want any cock ups.

Just wanna wear the rooster crown tall and proud.

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

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

CNY 2017 (5)

And this is how we 'bai nian'!

And this is how we ‘bai nian’!

Going Out! Happy days Holidays! The Kao Kids

The suite life, at Legoland Malaysia Resort

November 7, 2016

We love to cross the causeway for this reason.

We’ve done staycays in SG but nothing beats being at Legoland Hotel in Malaysia. It’s a combination of many things – from the dancing disco lifts and treasure hunt in every room we check in (you solve a mystery and get access to a treasure chest of Lego gifts!) to the minifig trading at the lobby and the themed rooms with every possible Lego detail to put the kids in complete Lego fantasy.

The kids absolutely love, love, love being at the hotel. They love bugging the jitters out of me and Fatherkao with can we buy? buy? buy? pppplllleeeaasssseee at the Lego shop, fixing swords and sticks and spaceships from the massive pool of free flow Lego bricks at the lobby, gorging themselves silly at the breakfast buffet in the mornings and looking out from the room into the theme park and water park and talking non stop about the many adventures to be had in this place.

They weren’t even that excited at Disneyland.

The children always dream of coming back.

Which makes me feel my experience at Legoland isn’t totally complete if we’ve not stayed at the suite. We’ve stayed at the premium and deluxe themed Pirate, Kingdom and Adventure rooms but not the suite yet.

This time round last weekend, because we had company and made an entourage of 8 people + 1 toddler, we could finally stay in one. The suite can take up to 2 adults and 6 kids or 4 adults or 4 kids or 3 adults and 5 kids or whatever permutation you can make to make 8.

There are 2 bunk beds, 2 pull out trundles, 1 king-sized bed and even a spare baby playpen, complete with two baths (one tub and one standing) and a dining area with an awesomely huge ass TV and a separate kids TV area, all overlooking some of the best views of the water park and theme park on the highest floor.

At least that’s what I had at the Kingdom Suite.

Ta-daa! The view when the door flings open. Photo credit: Legoland Malaysia Resort

Ta-daa! The view when the door flings open.
Photo credit: Legoland Malaysia Resort

The sleeping area for 6

The sleeping area for 6

Complete with own TV viewing at the side

Complete with own TV viewing at the side

legolandninjago_kaokids-25

The luxurious kingdom king-sized

With a dresser area

With a dresser area

The awesome living area

The awesome living area

Where my 3 kids had 2 more for company

Where my 3 kids had 2 more for company

And there's also a coffee machine, hooray for Krups!

And there’s also a coffee machine, hooray for Krups!

Check out the number of bath robes and bedroom slippers

Check out the number of bath robes and bedroom slippers

And the Mothercare playpen tucked nicely on the top shelf

And the Mothercare playpen tucked nicely on the top shelf

The awesome spacious toilet - this is toilet #1

The awesome spacious toilet – this is toilet #1

And this is toilet #2 with enough space to line 5 children up to take a bath two by two

And this is toilet #2 with enough space to line 5 children up to take a bath two by two

And these are awesome toiletries arranged like a jigsaw puzzle which we never got from the premium/deluxe rooms

And these are awesome toiletries arranged like a jigsaw puzzle which we never got from the premium/deluxe rooms

PLUS...the awesome view from the suite windows

PLUS…the awesome view from the suite window

Just makes my kids sing ‘Everything is awesome!’ on repeat mode being in this place!

So is the experience complete yet? It’s a yes for me, for sure. Being in this suite is sweetly relaxing – the space, the view, the details in the room and the wonderful Legoland hospitality.

As for the kids, it’s looking more complete than ever.

legolandninjago_kaokids-13

These happy faces say it all. Our emptied wallets say it all too.

~~~

Disclosure: The suite life has been experienced in a 2D1N stay brought to you by the Kao family and their friends. It is not free, although we received a media rate at time of booking. No monetary compensation was received and all opinions here are my own.

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

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!

legolandninjago_kaokidspictureair1

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.

Happy days Milestones and growing up The Kao Kids

Run fun

May 30, 2016

One of the best things about the kids being at 7,6 and 4 is that they love to run these days, and wish to run with purpose.

Gone are the days where you have to stop them from running into danger (think the toddler years) and running with no idea of danger (think those years where the idea of road safety was still an obscure concept). These days my kids play tag a lot and race one another to finishing points at the playground, void deck and corridor and love the thrill of starting races.

Best time to participate in runs ever.

We’ve had tremendous fun doing the Safari Zoo Run earlier in February as a family when Nat finally turned 4, thanks to the kind invitation of HiVelocity and Wildlife Reserves. It was the first time 5 km became a reality for Becks and Nat and the second time for Ben (not counting the Hello Kitty Run in which we walked all 5 km in the rain). A while ago, late last year, we already did the OSIM Sundown with Ben in which I was super impressed by his stamina and ability to persevere at 6 years old then.

At the Singapore Zoo earlier this February to participate in the Safari Zoo Run

At the Singapore Zoo earlier this February to participate in the Safari Zoo Run

Run completed, and medals collected!

Run completed, and medals collected!

Doing a run almost always guarantees a host of life lessons the kids can experience which can never be taught in any other setting. First, it brings out the complainer in every pampered child I have; and with every run we do, we get to deal with the whining head on admist the heat, humidity and discomfort. Nothing beats telling Becks to deal with it and suck it up in a run more than anywhere else because there was nothing really anyone can do about her sweat / mosquito bite / need for water / blah blah blah except to finish the run (hurhurhur).

Second, it brings out the competitive nature of the kids – my boys, at least – and lets them show off their athletic flair and drives their desire to win and overtake. And sometimes, a run becomes an opportunity for the kids to realise that they ain’t as good as they think they are and that finishing a run is not as easy as one thinks.

Fatherkao and Ben had the opportunity to do just that – dash 800m – in the recent Cold Storage Kids Run which we were invited to. They did it in what? 6? 7? minutes and felt such a tremendous sense of accomplishment that I know Ben would remember for a long time, although I know the run also showed him that there were stronger, tougher, better 7-year-olds than him out there, and that he could have been better and faster than them.

Off to run - dad and son!

Off to run – dad and son!

Easy peasy, fun and happy, to have completed the run

Easy peasy, fun and happy, to have completed the run

This kind of healthy competition – un-said, un-verbalised and un-intended – and getting kids motivated together with a bunch of like minded people, is what I think is the best takeaway for my kids in any run organised here in Singapore.

And the reason why we would likely be participating in more since the kids are now at the age – the golden age – for any form of running.

Time to put on our running shoes this year!

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

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

Bangkok Living, Part 1 – Tennis in Bangkok

December 3, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tennis training begins here daily at 06:00

Tennis training begins here daily at 06:00

Ben in action

Ben in action

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

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

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

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

Sawadeekha.

All this blog's PR Stuff Happy days Milestones and growing up The Kao Kids

The Friso Play Experience, Kao Kids Style

September 21, 2015

I shared a while ago we’ve cut our living space and moved. Which also meant that prior to the move, we threw/ donated / recycled / left downstairs (for garang guni aunties and uncles of our previous neighbourhood to scour, hurhurhur) truckloads of stuff.

Boy, did we have A LOT of stuff. Toys and books and playsets and bath things that everyone has outgrown. Clothes that we would never wear. DVDs that we would never watch. STUFF that we would never use.

So the kids were feeling a little trodden by the month-long throwing out.

And it was nice to have the good folks from Friso come a-knockin’ our way last week, telling us they will be placing this right smack in the middle of our place. Which, of course, made the kids extremely thrilled. You mean, we can have new things to play with? was the first thing that crossed their mind.

Frios Play Set

More details on how you can redeem this, or experience this, at the end of the post

Yes, apparently so. Thanks to Friso Singapore, who’s all very keen to get children to experience PLAY, Nat, our littlest, together with the older two kids, had a chance to play – and play a lot indeed – with the Friso Experiences Play Set, consisting of a Friso tent, a Friso slide with basketball and hoop (in blue or pink), a Friso storage box with 2 cushions and a green carpet à la astro turf (a rather big piece, I must say).

So this was how Nat played:

When the play set first arrived, Nat was stoked to see something he was familiar with outdoors but not indoors. So off to the slide he went. We laid out the artificial grass, put the slide with basketball hoop on top of it, and the small spongy green ball given was quickly exchanged for a real junior basketball (because, really, you’re talking about Nat here) and here, you see the pro at play:

Ready, set, play!

Ready, set, play!

There really isn't any rules to slide and dunk, right?

There really isn’t any rules to slide and dunk, right?

The next day, I saw my older two join in the fun. Ben and Becks have been told that the slide is not suitable for older children and might not take their weight. But clearly, it became nevermind, Mom, we can get really creative, because it doesn’t mean we have to physically slide down a slide to have fun:

Making some obstacle course-ball-sliding down-but-won't-make-too-much-of-a-din-and-mama-will-be-happy kind of thing 'play'

Making some obstacle course-ball-sliding down-but-won’t-make-too-much-of-a-din-and-mama-will-be-happy kind of thing ‘play’

How creative are my kids? Oh, so very. They are always ‘inventing’ things like that. The slide with the chairs and stools in the house, plus pillows and wooden sticks from the tent have seen more than 5 combinations already to make some “super machines” since the play set came. I’m just waiting for them to turn the slide upside down and discover a whole new world.

A few days later, I heard a great deal of swooshing and whooshing in the living room, and when I headed out, I was tickled by what Nat was doing, completely with commentary F1 broadcast teams would be proud:

It's time for.... HOT WHEELS!

It’s time for…. HOT WHEELS!

Cars down the slide, here we come!

Cars down the slide, here we come!

The pictures I took were posed versions with cars, obviously. When I spied him with my little eye without my camera, this boy was racing four cars at once.

That weekend, we also brought the tent to Grandma’s place to try “camping” out. Ok, I have to say that the tent is a tad small for 3 children, so…

First, the kids tried to fit in the tent...

First, the kids tried to fit into the tent…

Next, get comfortable

Next, they got comfortable

Ok, how about let's do dinner here? Oops, no space!

Ok, how about let’s do dinner here? Oops, no space!

So much for camping. They had fun, nonetheless, trying to make the tent work. I suspect if you throw them more rods and cloth, they might end up constructing a super tent big enough to fit the extended family, Grandma and Grandpa included.

So this was how the Kao kids did it with the Friso Play Set – play their own creative way!

***

Friso wishes to encourage parents to experience more together by engaging in creative play with their little ones. From 1 September 2015 to 31 October 2015, parents who spend $350 on any Friso participating products at participating retailers will receive the Friso Experiences Play Set (worth $300). It will consist of a tent, a slide with a basketball hoop, 2 cushions, a storage box and a green carpet so that parents can bring the outdoors into their homes and experience more together with their child.

The participating Friso products included in this promotion are Frisomum, Friso Gold Cereal and Friso Gold 2, 3, 4. It excludes all infant formula for 0-6 months.

There will also be a special Friso Experience Play Zones at FairPrice outlets and Sheng Siong outlets. Parents are invited to take pictures with their little ones at the play zones. Friso ambassadors will be on-site to snap photos, print it out and present it in a Friso Photo frame to the participants during the weekends.

The outlets for the Play Zones are:

  1. FP Xtra Jem Mall — 1 to 30 Sept
  2. FP Xtra AMK Hub — 1 to 30 Sept
  3. FP Xtra Sport Hub — 1 to 30 Sept
  4. FP Xtra Nex Mall — 7 to 30 Sept
  5. FP Xtra Jurong — 1 to 30 Sept
  6. FP East Point — 14 to 30 Sep
  7. Guardian Plus Takshimaya — 17 to 30 Sep
  8. Guardian Compass Point (B1) — 17 to 30 Sept
  9. Guardian Causeway Point (B3-4) —28 Sep to 4 Oct
  10. Sheng Siong Woodlands 6A — 1 to 31 Oct
  11. Sheng Siong Bedok 209 — 1 to 31 Oct

Find more details here: apps.facebook.com/frisoexperience or follow Friso on their FB Page for more info.

***

“Play is a drive, a need, a brain-building must-do.” – Jeff A Johnson & Denita Dinger (Let them play: an early learning (un)curriculum)

Disclosure: We received the play set from Friso to play. The kids played. I watched. We bonded.  All opinions here are our own.

All this blog's PR Stuff Ben Kao Happy days Milestones and growing up The real supermom

Sundown with love, running at sundown with my loves

July 10, 2015

I wanted to give up long before race day. There were more than enough reasons to anyway.

I needed to focus on work and cancel out any distraction.  There were processes to settle, curriculum to prepare and ideas to incubate. I didn’t have time to train (except for the five calories-burning sessions at Active Hive – another post on that soon). My husband, who was taking part in the Sundown Marathon with me, was not well for a long while with a phlegmy cough that didn’t go away. Ben had been having the sniffles too with his sensitive nose acting up a lot these days.

But a commitment is a commitment is a commitment. I said I’d do the 5km Fun Run for Sanctuary House, which I’ve been attempting to canvass donations for.

When Race Day arrived – and we were supposed to report at 7pm – I was already totally exhausted from being at work 6 hours earlier in the day. Fatherkao had a headache and popped two panadols that evening. The only one raring to go was Ben. And I had two other whining, unhappy, digruntled children who wouldn’t give me a break with their incessant grumblings about why they had to stay home with the helper. Not even TV helped.

But still we went, because a commitment is a commitment is a commitment, and boy, were we glad we did. That cool, lovely evening on 4 July totally made it to one of the high points of my year.

It was beautiful to be running at sundown.

The sunset view from Fatherkao's phone camera

The sunset view from Fatherkao’s phone camera

Add to that, the thoughtful organisers timed the Fun Run flag off to coincide with the fireworks from the NDP Rehearsal. We stopped after 1 km, stood by the Singapore River facing the Fullerton, and took in the breathtaking sights of the fireworks display before our eyes. Absolutely spectacular.

How close did we come ti soak in this spectacular sight?

How close did we come to soak in this spectacular sight?

This close. What a treat for the run!

This close. What a treat for the run!

And then being able make it to the half way mark with my firstborn – holding hands, encouraging him to press on, and sometimes looking at him from the back (yes, he got ahead of his very exhausted Mama) and thanking God that I have been blessed with lovely, healthy children.

Had this picture of the boys' back edited as a sketch because it's more poignant that way. I want to give thanks for the fact that in front of me ran two healthy boys!

Had this picture of the boys’ back edited as a sketch because it’s more poignant that way. I want to give thanks for the fact that in front of me ran two healthy boys!

And also extremely grateful that my husband, who hates running very much, was doing this with us with nary a grumble, encouraging Ben and me along the way, and teaching my firstborn some of life’s precious lessons. Overheard many times was the father telling the son to press on, not give up and reach for our goal. There were so many precious bonding moments no amount of money can buy.

When we held hands and made it through the finish line, it was touching to see the look of pride my son had on his face. That beaming, proud face after experiencing his first 5km-run. That look that says he’s grown up a little more after that evening.

Just the 3 of us

Just the 3 of us

Ben's well-deserved medal!

Ben’s well-deserved medal!

We had a lovely night after the run, being hosted by the organisers for dinner at the VIP tent, and talking a nice long walk to the MRT station talking about the events of the day and what the run was like for us. It was really, really nice to be walking hand in hand – just the three of us – like we were the best of friends and it was a beautiful and special moment for our firstborn too. I want to be doing this some time soon with Becks and then with Nat. I think that would be equally incredible.

Thank you, OSIM and Hivelocity, for the invitation to join the Sundown Marathon as a Sundown with Love Ambassador. We received more love that day than we could give.

Donations for Sanctuary House via the Sundown with Love platform closes 31 July 2015. If you could show a little love, click this link.

Disclosure: We were invited to be social influencers for the OSIM Sundown Marathon. No monetary compensation was received. All opinions here are our own.