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Milestones and growing up

(Self) Examination Milestones and growing up The Kao Kids What to Expect... As a Mother

The sadness when you are done having babies

August 3, 2017

This always hits me around the months of August and September.

This time round it hit much earlier, and I have begun to feel this way by the end of July.

An overwhelming sense of sadness.

Recently I read this article and it described everything I’ve felt for two years now, usually at this time of the year – this time of the year when ALL birthdays are officially over. My boys celebrate their birthdays in February and Becks celebrates hers in July.

The first time I experienced this sadness was right after Nat’s third birthday. By then I already knew. I knew in my heart after he blew out his three candles, that I was really done with having babies, and that he would be my last.

My babies are officially no more and what I have in the brood right now is an 8-year-old, a 7-year-old and a 5-year-old who are smarter than me, sassier than me and stronger than me.

At least this is what they think, and what I let them think.

Life every day with them is filled with both frustration and fun. Depends on the perspective you wish to adopt, hurhurhur.

You listen in to a whole load of stuff; they talk about a whole load of stuff; and a whole ginormous load of stuff is learned and picked up and discussed and explored and thought about and squabbled over every friggin’ waking minute.

It’s exhilarating and exasperating at the same time.

Now that I am done having babies, this is my area to grow as their mother – to handle the exhilaration and exasperation all at the same time and to savour it all while at it.

To cherish them as they are growing up, to tune in and work out the patience bit every single waking moment.

Yet, I can’t help but to reminisce and cry sad tears every night looking at this…

And this…

And these…

And at the gazillion photos and videos of them as little beings (thank God for technology!).

Every night while they sleep, I’ll be scrolling the hundreds and hundreds of photos we’ve taken of them since 2009, watching old videos from the family cloud drive, and planting hundreds and hundreds of kisses on every sleeping child’s cheeks, and breaking down into a childish wreck squealing ‘my baby, my baby, my baby, you’re my baby’. I know, this mother has gone bonkers.

So much so that sometimes the kids tell me to get a hold of myself and pull myself together. ‘What’s wrong, Mum?’ they’d ask. ‘I am not a baby anymore’, they’ll declare in their waking moments.

Goodbye, babies. Hello, big little people.

(Self) Examination Becks Kao Milestones and growing up The Kao Kids

It’s dark.

May 19, 2017

If there’s a Dark Ages to my history of motherhood, this should be it.

It’s now looking like the darkest ever. The toddler and preschooling years were pretty manageable. Exhausting but manageable. There were poopy diapers to change, dirty mouths to clean and lots of bedtime stories to tell but looking back, except the fact that you hit the sack every night bone tired, those years with 3 kids at those milestones were pretty much OK to navigate through.

Now that the kids are older, the challenges that I am facing are mentally and emotionally exhausting. Besides schedules, learning needs, progress follow-ups in between sassy retorts and juvenile arguments, there’s also the middle child and her difficulty to cope with changes and transitions smacking me right in the face.

I wished I could document in detail the pain and heartache and challenges and horrible days I go through managing her but I have decided against that and am learning to emphathise from a child’s perspective – that it can be both embarrassing and difficult, and I should park the details at some recesses of my memory somewhere where it wouldn’t hurt her. Suffice to say, there’s a lot of stuff going on from January till now, from learning needs and anxiety to lack of confidence and disastrous meltdowns. They are all now rolled up into one giant mess ball, coupled with my initial inability to handle her at her point of need (I was harsh, firm, upset, hysterical, critical, judgmental and having my own meltdown with every meltdown she had) and we pretty much have a bad situation right now, bad enough for me to call it the Dark Ages of my gig in motherhood.

I told myself I wouldn’t write.

I would deal. I would learn. I would press on.

And until I have found that little success, that aha-I’ve-overcome! moment, I would not write or rant for fear that it would cause more damage. Because you know, people would tell you ‘It’s ok, you’ll be alright’ and ‘Don’t worry, you’re doing a good job‘, and I know for a fact that IT’S NOT OK and I AM NOT DOING A GOOD JOB.

Because if I truly have any ability to reflect, I really can be better.

I can be better at…

…being consistent – and not swing from extreme to extreme, one moment encouraging and the other moment turning into a monster and screaming at the kid

…empathising – hey look, Mama, she is having a hard time too, and I shouldn’t be the only thinking that I am having it hard

…riding the tantrum /meltdown out – because a tantrum is technically not a tantrum but a “a good, deep work on fear” which can be deep-rooted and needs lots of emotional work.

I’ve been reading a lot and finding comfort in the advice and articles on this website, Hand in Hand Parenting, and taking heart that I am not alone going through this; that probably a thousand has gone before me.

I’ve also learned to ask God boldly for patience, wisdom and peace, every single day, every single moment of having to go through this.

And most of all, I’ve learned that motherhood is about change. Because the person that you’re mothering will never stay the same.

Tis’ true, the saying: that the days are long but the years are short. I so miss those bubbly, happy tods in my brood and wish so much I could baby them over.

But hey, change is needed now, and onward I go – to soldier through the Dark Ages.

One step

Ben Kao Milestones and growing up Reviews

Going the Ortho-K way (Part 2)

May 6, 2017

It’s been two weeks since Ben started putting on his Ortho-k lenses. I shared in Part 1 why we decided to make that his choice of visual aid, and how we got him started by first taking him to Aero-V for a check up and subsequently getting his lenses customised.

So when we were informed that his custom made lenses arrived from the States, we headed down for a one-hour session at Aero-V with Brian to get Ben acquainted with his new visual aid to wear to sleep at night.

Now, for a noob to contact lenses, this may all be extremely overwhelming. Sticking something into your eye, and sticking hard lens (RGP lens, or rigid gas permeable, to be precise) that would make your eye feel uncomfortable for a few days till your eyes get used to it, would certainly be something that any child would feel jittery about.

But Ben’s mom was NO stranger at all to these things, having worn all possible kinds of contact lenses from soft to toric and RGP, and so I guess my familiarity – and that it wasn’t really THAT big a deal or anything to be afraid of – was something that my son could latch on quickly to to find comfort. I guess it helps that I had been a confident contact lens wearer for a good 14 years, and my don’t-worry-you’ll-be-fine attitude helped calm Ben significantly.

But of course, he was still a little apprehensive. Who wouldn’t?

Learning a new habit isn’t always easy. Ben still had to learn to put his Ortho-k on and take them out himself.

 

Getting acquainted with his lens - learning that the most important thing is CLEAN HANDS

Getting acquainted with his lens – learning that the most important thing is CLEAN HANDS

Putting it on -right side first always - with the help of a mirror and looking down, keeping eyes wide open at ALL TIMES

Putting it on -right side first always – with the help of a mirror and looking down, keeping eyes wide open at ALL TIMES

The technique of keeing one's eye wide open is to use the left hand to keep upper eye lid open wide up to the bone of the eye brow, and pulling the lower eye lid down with the right middle finger. Lens to be put on the right index.

The technique of keeing one’s eye wide open is to use the left hand to keep upper eye lid open wide up to the bone of the eye brow, and pulling the lower eye lid down with the right middle finger. Lens to be put on the right index.

DONE!

DONE!

And now the left. Never forget putting a drop of eye drops before wearing it to keep eyes lubricated while asleep

And now the left. Never forget putting a drop of eye drops before wearing it to keep eyes lubricated while asleep

Learning how keep the left eye open to put the left lens in quickly

Learning how keep the left eye open to put the left lens in quickly

After taking them off, and trying on his full degree spectacles for fit and comfort. This pair of spectacles is to stand by for days he wouldn't be able to put on his Ortho-k, like if he falls ill or goes for camps

After taking them off, and trying on his full degree spectacles for fit and comfort. This pair of spectacles is to stand by for days he wouldn’t be able to put on his Ortho-k, like if he falls ill or goes for camps

And of course, for a 8-year-old, it was daunting. Especially taking them out.

To ease his fear of squeezing his eye lids, we opted to use the little suction pump for removal, and vowed to have enough of these little pumps so we would never be found in a situation where can’t take the lens out (true story that happened to me when I wore RGP in my teen years).

The fitting and training session went well, and Ben got a little gift box – which Brian thoughtfully prepared – to bring home. The entire package with Aero-V to make his Ortho-k lense included the following:

Service at its best!

Service at its best!

  1. Ortho-k lens, custom-made
  2. a starter kit for lens cleaning
  3. a bottle of saline
  4. suction pump to remove the lens and Blink eye drops
  5. a mirror with back light
  6. a box and white cloth (more on that later, on the brilliance of simple things)
  7. two pairs of spectacles – one made to Ben’s full degree, and one with his power halved
  8. one year warranty for lens
  9. one year follow-up
  10. 24/7 access to the optometrist by email or whatsapp (how awesome, if we had any questions!)

How brilliant is the idea to do all the saline rinse over the transparent container box, and putting on the lens over a piece of white cloth. Why didn’t I think of that, in the past? Many a lens could have been saved from digging them out of the sink hole and bending on all fours to locate a missing lens with the feel of a finger.

Could.have.been.more.innovative.last.time.

I am happy to report that for two weeks now, the Ortho-k wearing has been a great success. Ben’s mother has been helping him put on and take off his Ortho-k for him religiously every night, and on two occasions where I came home late and he had no confidence to wear them on his own, he only needed to put on his half degree spectacles in the later part of the day.

But if he was on his Ortho-k in the night, he always managed to sleep well with zero discomfort and absolutely no eye-rubbing (he wears an eye mask to sleep) and woke up to perfect vision every morning after the lenses were taken off.

This has been the best thing for him so far, and I know my boy is loving the freedom of not having to wear his spectacles. I know he relishes in this freedom because I watched his grump level increase tremendously when I forced him to wear his half degree spectacles on those two occasions I didn’t manage to help him put his Ortho-k on to sleep.

Just compare this face…

Ben in his half degree

Ben in his half degree

With this contented one…

Ben_OrthoKPart2 (2) - Copy - Copy

Ben_OrthoKPart2 (3) - Copy - Copy

Mom’s definitely the more tired one, no thanks to needing to wake up when he wakes, and putting them on for him before he sleeps, and doing all the lens cleaning in between on his behalf. But thankfully, the boy has promised to step up his game next year to try to do this by himself! His freedom to swim, read, play and do sports with perfect vision every day (ever since that dreadful eye test result) without the need for any visual aid makes this mother’s efforts all worth it.

YAY TO NO-SPECKY BOY!

Disclosure: I didn’t get engaged by Aero-V to share this, but I am definitely recommending Brian and his impeccable service and professionalism if you’re seeking for an Ortho-K expert to advice you. All opinions here are my own.

Ben Kao Milestones and growing up Reviews

Going the Ortho-K way (Part I)

April 5, 2017

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

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

Which sucked. Big time.

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

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

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

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

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

This article calls it ‘braces for the eyes‘.

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

Sounds like something I want Ben to go through.

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

 

Eye examination to assess for clarity of sight

Eye examination to assess for clarity of sight

Getting his power determined

Getting his power determined

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

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

Ben_OrthoK_AeroV (3) - Copy

Measuring his cornea

Checking the health of his cornea

Checking the health of his cornea

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

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

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

Ben Kao Milestones and growing up

The reluctant specky boy

January 22, 2017

Both Ben and I were super bummed over the weekend.

By this:

BenKao_Eyecheckreport2017 (1)

BenKao_Eyecheckreport2017 (2)

MY FIRSTBORN NEEDS GLASSES!!!!!

I moped around for a while like it was the end of the world. And yep, you might have probably guessed it; I didn’t stop lecturing him about his posture, reading under poor lighting and all his terrible pussy habits like putting his head on the table while doing his work.

Just like what my mom did to me.

Yep, I gave it my all this weekend. I gave it ALL back.

I had worn glasses all my life since I was 7 and had lived half of it in total inconvenience of severe myopia and astigmatism until this five-letter word saved my life at the age of 28.

It was no fun at all, being a specky. I knew it. I hated being one. And I made sure Ben knew how horrible this might mean to his life.

And he was really disappointed too.

For him, it came like a huge unannounced tidal wave that swept him off shore while he was completely unaware. For the longest time, he was confident he wouldn’t need glasses. Till now, he still claims he sees well in class.

But why 6/18????

“I can’t see the last line of super tiny words lah! So so small!” was his reply, referring to the recent eye assessment at the health check in school

I am feeling a little helpless now and a little at a loss as to what to do. One school of thought tells me, go get his spectacles fixed as soon as he can before he squints his eyesight downhill. The other says, don’t be in a hurry to prescribe glasses for him. There are other things like hard contact lenses, eyes drops, TCM accupuncture and gardening to try.

For now I have yet to do anything – but how long can I wait it out before I find the right solution and / or the right school of thought to subscribe to?

Crowdsourcing for ideas here, on the blog, if you have any thoughts!

Till then, we are trying to get used to the fact that my specky boy would be looking like this:

BenKao_Clipons - Copy

Yes, this NERDY.

 

(Self) Examination Family life as we know it Getting all sentimental now Milestones and growing up The Kao Kids

New challenges, new resolutions, new year!

January 20, 2017

Twentyseventeen.

It’s a new year – and we’ve made it here. I am grateful.

I’m grateful that this year, I have – in my brood – bigger, older, more sensible children. Children that I can reason with, confide in, talk to.

Children whom I’ve never imagine to be growing this tall and talking this much, and coming this far with me in this motherhood journey.

Children who love me as I am, whom I know can watch me grow old and still hold on to me.

Children whom I love, as they are; and whom I know that I can watch grow up and hold on dear to.

KaoKids_Dec2016

Tis‘ so true the saying; that in parenthood the days are long but the years are short, and I now have a 8-year-old, a 7-year-old and a 5-year-old this year. Instead of diapers to change and tiny hands to hold, I find myself having to do so different things.

Like sitting on the swing at night with my firstborn, talking about his hopes and dreams.

Like reading the little notes my little girl leaves on my desk, filled with hearts and words spelling out, “I love you, Mama.”

Like having my littlest call me over the phone, asking me, “How was your day, Mom?”

These littles have grown up, and this year, I resolve to do three things.

I resolve to disconnect to connect.

I resolve to eat right and live life a little more balanced, so I can be a healthier, mindful mom for them.

I resolve to work a little harder at making their dreams come true – if that would mean being more efficient, more effective and more excellent.

What have you resolved to do this year? How is this year looking like for you?

I hope twentyseventeen would be a great one!

Food, glorious food! Holidays! Milestones and growing up Motherkao loves... The Kao Kids

5 things to do with kids, the ‘chill-and-live-like-a-local’ version

December 5, 2016

We’re having the luxury of time here in Bangkok living like (and with) the locals for the second time now. The last time we did this was last year where we lived at The Hub Residence at Ramkhamhaeng and walked daily to the tennis court 5 minutes away so that Ben could get his intensive training in the mornings.

This year, we’re doing the same. Except that we’re not at The Hub this time due to their new minimum 6-months rental policy. We’ve found decent and simple lodging nearer the beginning of Soi 4, and are super stoked we’re just next to a 7-11 and literally a minute’s walk away from the glorious street food prepared and cooked by the same locals who could still remember us from last year.

The kids pretty much delve right into being at home in BKK and know the drill well – no balking at street food (the locals here take pride in what they prepare), say thank you and hello with palms pressed together in a slight bow, smile whenever things get lost in translation and speak in English slowly, and watch out for cars before they cross even the tiniest of alleys.

When in BKK living at the outskirts beyond the tourist façade of malls and high rise, here are 5 things to do to experience life as a local. Or at least, here’s 5 things we have done.

Go ahead and try it; the experience might surprise you.

1. Be ferried down the soi, the local-way

Right in front where we live, there’s a hut with parked motorcycles on the left that ferries people from place to place and pedal carts queued up to take groups of people down alleyways (with seats enough for 6 and pedalled by a local) on the right. Hop on to a pedal cart for 5 baht or onto a motorbike for less than 30, and you can get ferried from one end of the alley to the other (or beyond, perhaps!) without having to walk!

Definitely an experience for the kids on a pedal cart and a luxury for those whose legs are aching from walking too much!

Getting a ride on the pedal cart

Getting a ride on the pedal cart: the uncle pedals hard all day to get people from Point A to B

2. Play old school video games at arcades/shopping mall

A 10-baht coin slotted into any arcarde game machine is great mileage. It lasts for 15 minutes. Put 4 in and you get an hour of rest while your boys expend their energies.

Totally worth it.

Game: 40 cents Brotherly bonding: priceless

Game: 40 cents
Brotherly bonding: priceless

My father taught me how to drive

My father taught me how to drive

At the arcades in the city centre, the games are double the price (20 baht for a race car cheap thrill) but still, they are great ways to hang out with the locals or hang out like the locals. Many of the local school kids are there dancing their para-para-dance and might even challenge you in a bike or car race.

3. Explore community malls

We checked out The Commons at Thonglor and frequently go to The Mall at Ramkhanhaeng, and The Nine. These are awesome community and neighbourhood malls to be in to watch the world go by. You can sit at cafes, eat lots of crepe cakes, pretzels and donuts, and take lots of pictures. Best part is, everything where we stay (in the area of Ramkhahaeng) is almost ten times cheaper than anything in the Greater Metropolis like Siam.

The Commons has an entire storey for kids that allows for free play (if you get food and drinks) and facilitated play (200 baht for the 1st hour); methinks this is great if you want to just chill out but your kids are raring to go. I hear they also run holiday camps like crafting and cooking. They also organise block parties where you can hang out and participate in community-building activities, similar to our RC and CC activities back home.

The Commons at Thonglor, the latest community mall in Bangkok

The Commons at Thonglor, the latest community mall in Bangkok

It's not a huge mall at all; merely a space for people to hang out, but there are interesting things around

It’s not a huge mall at all; merely a space for people to hang out, but there are interesting things around

Like these giant fans to cool the space

Like these giant fans to cool the space

And lots of space and stairs to monkey around

And lots of space and stairs to monkey around

The Kids Common is where kids can have fun

The Kids Common is where kids can have fun

And where play matters

And where play matters

Driving around in a cloth bus and using all our imagination

Driving around in a cloth bus and using all our imagination

The top yard has lots of space to chill out and a herb garden to explore

The top yard has lots of space to chill out and a herb garden to explore

Lego fun at Kids Common

Lego fun at Kids Commons

Play area that's chargeable because kids get to craft under supervision

Play area that’s chargeable because kids get to craft under supervision

4. Do as the locals do + watch Thai tv for cultural immersion

December marks the beginning of mourning for the Thai people who are grieving the passing of their late king. And every now and then the tv zones out from its regular programming and broadcasts funeral rites and rituals happening live at the Grand Palace. What a great way to be immersed in the history and culture of of a country through tv broadcasts, in a time like this.

Beyond that, my kids would sit in front of the tv to watch Boomerang and cartoons in Thai. Even if they have no idea what’s being said, the constant listening in gives them the immersion I’ve always hoped they would get. They can say some simple words in Thai, which is not bad for a start!

When we head to the malls, we also take the time to walk around the various exhibitions and appreciate the many artwork and installations in memory and honour of the late Thai king. We left flowers where they were freely available for anyone who wished to pay their respect and stood in silence to watch the many videos the malls were playing.

rememberingtheking_bkk_dec2016-4

One of the many picture exhibition happening right now at the walkway between MBK and Siam Discovery

One of the many picture exhibition happening right now (time of writing: Dec 2016) at the walkway between MBK and Siam Discovery

Taking a moment to watch a video of celebrating King Bhumibol's life

Taking a moment to watch a video celebrating King Bhumibol’s life

The pictures even have QR codes to scan so you can download it for keeps

The pictures even have QR codes to scan so you can download it for keeps

This art installation by a local artist features some form of kinetic energy to light up a rendition of lights making up the face of the late king

This art installation by a local artist features some form of kinetic energy to light up a rendition of lights making up the face of the late king

Step on the platform, and this comes out - how brilliant!

Step on the platform, and this comes out – how brilliant!

This installation features lots of heart-shaped people as a reminder to show love and compassion to people around you and the less fortunate (it's even some form of a charity drive!) because that's how they'd like to remember King Bhumibol

This installation features lots of heart-shaped people (and free “hugs”!) as a reminder to show love and compassion to people around you and the less fortunate (it’s even some form of a charity drive!) because that’s how they’d like to remember King Bhumibol. That’s really also what he exemplified in his life.

The kids got to learn a little more about King Bhumibol’s significance in Thai society and history, and it was, in my opinion, an honour to mourn together with the people. We also tried as much as possible to wear dark colours every day.

rememberingtheking_bkk_dec2016-8

rememberingtheking_bkk_dec2016-9

Leaving a special flower as a mark of respect at the atrium of Siam Paragon

5. Savour the sights and smells of street food

Nobody really cooks at home, I hear. The locals settle their breakfast, lunch and dinner at the roadside street stalls and that pretty much is their way of life.

Our rule-of-thumb for street food: food must be cooked in high heat (which means we don’t really patronise the carts that sell fruits or som tum).

We love it that we get to try everything from fried dough fritters and pork porridge to beef noodles, phad thai, wanton noodles and chicken soup right at our door step. Not to mention the freshly made Thai tea and local desserts from flavoured soy milk to coconut pancakes at such an affordable price.

The locals who make a living selling street food are a hardworking bunch who never fail to tirelessly show up to cook – every single day, including Sundays and public holidays – and we have so much respect for them; we love to stand around to watch them prepare the food we want to tabao back.

They have so much pride in what they do.

This was such a godsend: I'm hacking away with this awful cough and the porridge every morning with so much ginger and spring onions and flavourful meat balls is so much comfort

This was such a godsend: I’m hacking away with this awful cough and this porridge is what I have every morning with generous slices of ginger and spring onions and flavourful meat balls is so much comfort. I’m so regular that the stall owner just knows what to do when she sees me.

How comforting

How comforting

Dough fritters for 20 baht

7 dough fritters for 20 baht which is old school youcharkway, except that it’s pop-in-your-mouth-bite-size!

Having a feast after tennis, and it's only 9 in the morning!

Having a feast after tennis, and it’s only 9 in the morning! Ben is having pad thai freshly made and the rest of us had pork soup (fatherkao), porridge (Becks and me) and some sort of coconut and yam kueh (Nat & helper)

This.

This is the best part of being in Thailand. There’s nothing not to love, and we’re enjoying every day we’re here living like we’re one of them.

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

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

November 2, 2016

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

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

 

Losing his spelling list

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

Me: Then go ask your teacher for another one.

Ben: I can’t! She’ll scold me!

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

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

Having a plan

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

Ben: No. I don’t have the list.

Me: So what is your plan?

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

Me: Great idea.

At the 1st Parent-Teacher Conference

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

Me: ???

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

Me: Is his partner a girl?

Teacher: Yes.

Me: -_-

Why did you copy?

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

Ben: I didn’t.

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

Ben: Huh. That was my plan!

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

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

Me: -_-

~~~

No handphone, public phone can?

Ben: Mom, can I have a handphone?

Me: No.

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

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

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

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

Ben: -_-

~~~

Canteen Fun, I

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

Ben: Hmm. Uhmm. I did.

Me: What?

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

Me: -_-

Canteen Fun, II

Me: Did you do anything naughty today?

Ben: Uhm, yes!

Me: What is it?

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

Me: Oh my.

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

Me: -_-

~~~

Girls are our buddies, I

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

Me: Who’s your buddy?

Ben: I forgot her name.

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

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

Me: -_-

Girls are our buddies, II

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

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

Me: ?

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

Me: You’re banned from playing?

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

Me: -_-

Girls are our buddies, III

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

Me: Tell me.

Ben: We trick the girls!

Me: How?

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

Me: -_-

~~~

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

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

 

 

All this blog's PR Stuff Becks Kao Getting all sentimental now Milestones and growing up Motherkao loves...

The birthday party that was for My (not so) Little Pony – Celebrating Becks’ 6th

September 10, 2016

When I had to check myself into the hospital 6 years ago to deliver this 3.3kg baby, I was screaming my way all the way from the triage to the delivery suite. This girl, my gosh, is going to be a feisty one, I know. Gawd‘. The pain she was giving me kicking and shoving all my innards away and the contractions I was getting that made me scream ‘LEVEL 10!!!!!’ whenever someone asked me to rate my pain was just how I knew this girl was going to be one tough cookie.

Fast forward 6 years and look at this beautiful thing right before our eyes.

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She’s given me my fair share of heartaches with her fits and tantrums and her night terrors in her toddler years but has more than made up for it by growing up so gorgeously.

So for the princess of the house, we have granted her royal highness her wish to have a party to celebrate turning 6 with her friends.

Becks decided that for her 6th birthday, she wants My Little Pony (MLP) for the party theme. I was not ready to vest too much money with getting a crazily elaborate one to add to the many things I had to do day-to-day, so I decided to focus on her having fun and resolved to keep the party simple and fuss-free.

So here’s how I did her simple MLP 6th Birthday Party with a few phone calls and emails after deciding on the theme:

1. Venue

Where else would it be but at Trehaus, where our beautiful sun-drenched Atelier lets in the most gorgeous natural lighting and its glass windows and high ceiling make it such a simple, uncluttered space to be with family and friends on a weekend. I booked the Studio + Atelier from 3-6pm on a Sunday a month in advance, and that’s basically how fuss-free securing the venue was.

Here's the venue we chose for my little girl's 6th. A shot here while everyone is prepping!

Here’s the venue we chose for my little girl’s 6th. A shot here while everyone is prepping!

2. Decor

We had a simple one done up by Floral Garage SG who recently expanded to go beyond floral artistry to providing party decor services. I briefed the coordinator about the theme choice and colours, and she promptly turned up to put up pom poms, buntings, some tassels on the dessert table and letter balloons on the wall spelling ‘Becks’.

Simple, clean decor by Floral Garage SG

Simple, fuss-free decor by Floral Garage SG

Putting the rainbow tassels

Putting the rainbow tassels

They threw in a unicorn piñata for good fun, and I was reminded to purchase confectionery to fill it. Which I did, easily. A supermarket run to get some marshmellows, nougat bites and chocolates did the trick!

3. Dessert table

I DIY-ed this so I didn’t need to burn a hole in my pocket. I had @qiannybakes (follow her on Instagram) to do the two tier cake in rainbow and in rosettes; and had her also make the rainbow cupcakes, lemon meringue tarts and macarons (which were super delish and snapped up within an hour of the party) for the dessert table (she’s a homebaker, so she’s really affordable for a budget-conscious mom like me).

And that really was it. The table was also supplemented by me with fruit servings of blueberries, grapes and strawberries, and mini marshmallows in pretty cups (get them all from Phoon Huat).

The birthday cake! Too pretty!

The birthday cake! Too pretty!

The cake with the whole jing gang of My Little Ponies

The cake with the whole jing gang of My Little Ponies

Macarons in Rarity colours

Macarons in Rarity colours

Lemon meringue tartlets

Lemon meringue tartlets

Rainbow cupcakes with Speculoos toppings

Rainbow cupcakes with Speculoos toppings

Super nice of @qiannybakes to lend me her cake stands and pretty plates

Super nice of @qiannybakes to lend me her cake stands and pretty plates

4. Canapes

I got a coworker turned friend who owns @WhollyVida (Instagram follow tag) to take charge of prepping canapés for the guests. Since the party was going to be at 3pm, I figured most would be in the mood for light bites instead of something heavy. My friend, who’s also a raw food chef, nutritionist and a vegan-food enthusiast prepped us devil’s eggs, mushroom tahini crostini and cherry tomatoes polenta. They were simple pop-in-the-mouth wholesome goodness, and balanced out the sweet stuff from the dessert table.

Prepping the canapes at the pantry area

Prepping the canapes at the pantry area

Pretty polenta bites

Pretty polenta bites

Crotini bites for the taking

Crotini bites for the taking

5. Party activities

Ah. This was the one I scratched my head a little. How would I keep a group of 6-year-olds plus the other accompaniments ranging from toddler to much older siblings occupied?

I could get a magician – but that’s so not fitting for a party for Becks. She’s super reserved and if she gets singled out as the birthday girl all the time, she might really just hide in the toilet till the party’s over.

I could organise some painting activities; but she’ll be in white and purple and I wouldn’t want anyone well-dressed to have paint on them. (I’m considerate and practical that way, hurhur. For my helper, at least!)

So I made a call to my friends who own and run Tickle Your Senses, and asked what they could propose to do for a group of 6-year-olds and potentially some toddlers and 8 to 10-year-olds at a party. Playdough and waterbeads was the answer, and they agreed to do it as close to MLP theme as possible, with MLP colours and cookie cutters. I later found out they also threw in jewels for playdough play and the jewels kept Becks and her friends really really happy.

Water beads in Rarity colours

Water beads in Rarity colours

Home made, taste-safe playdough

Home made, taste-safe playdough

Ready for little hands to play

Ready for little hands to play

Rarity - Becks' favourite pony

Rarity – Becks’ favourite pony

Pretty in play

Pretty in play

Tickle Your Senses make the best taste-safe, non-toxic playdough in the history of DIY playdough making. I assure you, you’ll never find playdough anywhere else that’s wonderful-smelling, therapeutic to mould and keeps children (and adults too) engaged for a such a long time!

Announcement: Tickle Your Senses tell me you can check out with “motherkao10off” for 10% off ALL products from now till 30 Nov 2016. Go try their playdough – you will change your mind about all other playdough!

6. Party favours

And because they were so, so kind – I’m referring to the ladies behind Tickle Your Senses – they sponsored mini playdough tubs with a Rarity ‘Thank you for coming to Becks’ 6th birthday’ sticker as the party favours, complete with moulds and cutters all nicely wrapped.

I also went online to MTRADE – The Novelty Wholesale Store to order some old school (water) games and some MLP trinkets to put in brown bags I bought from Daiso to make into little carrier bags the little guests could take away with thank-you printables from Etsy. While shopping at Mtrade, I also bought some purple disposable table cloths and an MLP themed disposable table cover.

Party favours, loving prepared by yours truly and Tickle Your Senses

Party favours, loving prepared by yours truly and Tickle Your Senses

7. Photography

This was a godsend because Fatherkao is usually the assigned photographer for any family event (which means he won’t be in the pictures and can’t really catch up with friends) but it turned out, through some new connections I’ve made at Trehaus this year, the photographer behind Tabledreamer Photography (follow Immanuel on IG @tabledreamerphotography), who absolutely loves photographing children in action, was available to be our photographer for the day.

I must add that our photographer for the day took on a rather challenging feat though – Becks is very used to being photographed only by her dad, and so Immanuel had to get her to warm up to him before being able to snap away. She’s terribly reserved around men, and it was very, very difficult to get her to even look at the camera.

Did he succeed, you think?

I’ll let his pictures do the talking.

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And while I left the experts to handle all the above 7 items that make a birthday party, I focused on getting to know who’s who in my daughter’s class pre-party and during the party.

I’ve been pretty much disengaged with Becks’ school life, except the occasional bed time whining about friendship woes (they start early!) with some girls in her class whom I never had a face to put the name to. And so finally, sitting down with Becks to finalise the guest list (we invited everyone in the class even though she was adamant about not having boys at the party, haha) and updating the birthday girl herself on the RSVP list helped me understand my little girl, her take on friendships and how school life was for her.

And actually spending time during the party to get to know her friends and their mums and dads during the party.

Which was really precious.

On the day itself, all we did was to show up and have a good time. And so did Becks’ friends, our close friends and family.

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And it was MOST important my birthday pony had the best time of her life.

Looking at the pictures, I think she did.

~~~

Thank you, everyone – family, friends, sponsors and partners – for all your love and for making this so very amazing for a 6-year-old who would be growing up beautifully in the year ahead and the years to come!

~~~

NOW FOR THE CREDITS *drumroll please*

Thank you, Chef Bibi and Chef CP, for prepping the food. And Fatherkao for prepping awesome pork ribs to share with everyone.

Thank you, Floral Garage SG, for putting up the decor at such short notice!

Thanks, @qiannybakes, for rushing down after baking and helping me plate those yummy desserts! And for loaning me all those pretty cake tiers and plates!

Thank you, Immanuel, for your patience in capturing many of these treasured moments which we will cherish for a long time.

Thank you, Chiao Chyi, for your patience with the girls at the playdough table, and for meticulously planning the activities for the party. I really appreciate you taking pains to prep each party favour!

Thank you, to all friends and family, who came to bless Becky with your presents and presence. Your love means a lot to us.

To Becky’s friends – you may all be parting ways after this year, but your paths may cross someday some way. She has wonderful memories with so many of you, and so thank you, for being her friend!

And lastly, THANK YOU, JESUS. I survived 6 years of that feisty baby since Day Zero at the delivery suite.

Becks Kao Milestones and growing up What to Expect... As a Mother

The day my little girl said she hates me

July 11, 2016

PROLOGUE

I had never expected this day to come so soon. At some point in motherhood, I had imagined that my daughter might throw one huge tantrum and scream hurtful things at me but that would be the part when I am raising her in her adolescence and NOT NOW.

This episode takes the cake of all the tantrums she’s ever thrown and is making me rethink about preparing my heart for more epic tantrums sooner than later.

~~~

So it was a typical Sunday like all other Sundays yesterday. We spent time together as a family and made plans for dinner. And since it was an evening where we were going to get a rare treat from a chef friend who was going to cook us a meal at our place, I thought I’d better bring Ben to the hair salon for an overdue hair cut (and before the discipline master in school charges me for neglect – it’s been 2 months!) while dinner was being prepped.

And when I asked aloud in the car if anyone wanted to follow, I was surprised to hear Becks chimed a loud ‘ME!‘. This girl would never let anyone touch her hair, let alone cut it. She was quick to make her conditions known though – a trim will do, thank you very much; I’d still like to tie up my hair and braid it like Rapunzel ok, Mama?!

When we got to the salon we frequented, I gave instructions to the stylist for both kids who wanted their haircut.

For Ben, short, please. As short as possible.

For Becks, I pointed to where her shoulder blade was and told the guy in Mandarin that this little customer of his would expect to still tie her hair up after her haircut.

But I – very unfortunately – also did the following:

– used the word ‘chop’ in my mix of spoken Mandarin and English

– convinced Becks that the back of her hair looks nicer layered and subsequently agreed that it should be layered (which contributed to the short length)

– agreed that he should do whatever that’s needed to get rid to that tension wave that’s looking pretty obvious on her long tresses due to excessive tying

– read HER WORLD and not hover around the hairdresser and breathe down his neck to make sure the haircut was done to her requirements

Bad, bad Mama, I was. Catching up on all my magazine flipping

Becks must have sat there feeling extremely horrified as the cutting went on as her hair got shorter and shorter. To her credit, she stayed composed until we left the salon. I could tell my little girl was terribly upset with this haircut but she kept a straight face.

It didn’t help that her brothers called her ‘mushroom head’ (ugh, boys!) and everyone (my helper, me and the two hair stylists at the salon) exclaimed that she looked great with short hair after the cut was over.

She asked me in private after we’ve left to tie her hair up, and when I couldn’t, I knew a storm was looming.

I frantically took this photo and sent it to my family group chat so she could hear assuring praises from her yeeyee and grandparents that she had a fantastic haircut, but that didn’t quite work out because she kept insisting on our walk home that I tie up her hair.

The smile she couldn't fake

The smile she couldn’t fake

I quickly texted her dad who was with our chef friend at home and warned him that Becks was unhappy about a haircut gone wrong. I made sure that he knew what happened and told him to assure her when he sees her later.

And when we finally got home, her father gave her hug and told her she was the most beautiful in his world, and that was when she burst into tears and screamed at the top of her lungs saying:

“I HATE YOU MAMA. I DON’T LIKE YOU! I HATE YOU, MAMA” with the deadliest glare I have ever seen.

She then walked across to where I sat and hit me profusely, hissing at me to give her her long hair back, and when I said I couldn’t, she did the unthinkable.

“Then I wish you would die, Mama. I hate you,” she sobbed.

All because of a haircut

~~~

EPILOGUE

I watched in disbelief as my daughter cursed me with such anger. I even let her hit me to vent her frustrations, only to realise that she was reveling in the hysteria more and more as she hit and cursed and glared.

So I walked out of the house to remove myself from this hysteria and went downstairs. I sat alone at the playground for 15 minutes, thinking about those times I hurt my mother with the words I said and wondering if my mom would be in stitches right now, thinking: is this what they call karma?

When I returned, Becks was all showered and clean and lying in bed, sobbing, AND COMBING HER HAIR like there was no tomorrow. She managed to whimper a soft ‘Sorry Mama’ when she saw me and I made it known that whilst the apology was accepted, I was deeply hurt.

“All because of a haircut, Becks, and I cannot believe you wished I die because of this. Your hair would grow and you’ll have your long hair back but if I were to be gone, I’ll be gone forever” was what I said to her.

Life quickly resumed after we both calmed down (thank God for my boys who hugged me and made it all better). We had a lovely dinner with the most awesome steak and aglio olio and grilled corn linguine, thanks for our private chef friend.

While we were eating, my daughter disappeared every now and then to comb her hair.

~~~

POSTSCRIPT

Last night before we went to bed, I held my little girl tight and assured her that I would never hurt her or harm her. It was only a haircut, and I was sorry I didn’t control the process of her hair being cut more strictly than I should.

I told her she should never ever say those horrible things to me ever again and she made me a promise she wouldn’t.

-THE END-