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Safari Zoo Run 2017: 3 more days to sign up + discount code to do so!

December 6, 2016

We’ve always loved the zoo, zoo, zoo; how about you, you, you?

You can love it too, too, too.

Let’s all love the zoo, zoo, zoo.

Sorry, can’t help myself doing a little boogie dance here when I think about my family’s love affair with the Singapore Zoo.

Did you know that our award-winning Singapore Zoo is something all of us can be proud of? I’m proud of the fact that it is committed to wildlife conservation and conservation research, and that every cent I spend there goes to supporting the efforts to keep the conservation spirit going.

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 orangutan, who died of old age in February 2008, as well as to encourage family bonding, and next year’s Zoo Run is going to get more exciting with the theme “Run for Wildlife”, focusing on raising awareness for wildlife conservation.

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The Zoo Run will feature 4 animal icons in the form of Team ‘Ah Meng the Orangutan’, Team ‘Chawang the Asian Elephant’, Team ‘Canola the Manatee’ and Team ‘Sunny the Hornbill’. You’ll get to do your part for wildlife by choosing an animal team to support and help raise awareness for them.

Join a team and run for wildlife today – because we’ll certainly be doing likewise like we did this year, probably in the non-competitive category! I very much anticipate the Kao kids wanting Team Canola bad (hurhurhur, manatees cutiesssss!) but I may be wrong (I haven’t told the kids yet!).

We’ll be revealing our animal team at next year’s run, so see you on 18 February 2017!

More details

Run for Wildlife Safari Zoo Run is happening next year on 18 Feb 2017 (Saturday) – get more details on race categories, fees and age limits for kids here.

The Early Bird Rate for registration ends on 9 Dec (2359 hours), and the organisers tell me that they’re giving a unique discount code to enjoy 10% off prevailing rates when you register from now till 15 Jan 2017.

Use SZR2017BGPMOTHERKAO10 when you register to get your discount!

All this blog's PR Stuff Food, glorious food! Reviews

It’s the smell of breakfast and more with ‘A Helping Hand’

December 4, 2016

Ever since this came along, my children have stopped eating corn flakes and cereal for breakfast.

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‘A Helping Hand’ by Frog Michaels: read how this came about here

Thanks to A Helping Hand by Frog Michaels, my helper has been churning out pancakes and variations of egg dishes for the kids, in addition to making bread and buns for the whole family since two weeks ago when the cookbook arrived.

My kids are eating better, thanks to this.

At least we no longer hear ‘Huh? Cornflakes again?’!  

A stack of fluffy pancakes for breakfast for the kids by Helper A, thanks to the cookbook

A stack of fluffy pancakes for breakfast for the kids by Helper A, thanks to the cookbook!

This was sent to me in Helper's A excitement to share she made poached eggs

This was sent to me in Helper’s A excitement to tell me she made poached eggs one of the mornings I wasn’t around. She tried many more recipes but I barely got to take any pictures because by the time we remember to take photos, the food’s all gone!

I think having a cookbook in Tagalog is such an awesome idea.

Like how awesome this is with the Tagalog side by side the English one

Like how awesome this is with the Tagalog side by side the English one

I think having 86 recipes for Western and Asian cuisine for my helper written and printed in her native language is an even awesomer idea.

I’ve personally told my helper that the possibilities are now endless in terms of what she can whip up, instead of sticking to the staples she always prepares, like pasta and fried rice. She can now be a pro in the kitchen effortlessly from this point forward.

This book is everything I wish she could cook.

A Helping Hand is Singapore’s only cookbook written in English and Tagalog and is designed to help employers and helpers alike churn out tasty, balanced and healthy meals for the family.

Beyond that, it succeeds in being more than just a cookbook: it’s a book that helps relationships between families and their domestic helpers; gives helpers the tools they need in order to feel confident in the kitchen and the information they need in order to purchase ingredients to put a meal together; and helps helpers understand descriptive cooking phrases like ‘beat’, ‘bake blind’, ‘braise’ and ‘blanch’ that would otherwise get lost in translation.

The best part of it all is that for every book sold, a donation goes to Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics (H.O.M.E.) – a Singapore charity and society dedicated to upholding the rights of migrant workers.

Makes an awesome gift to your domestic helper – if yours is from the Philippines – this Christmas!

More details:

A Helping Hand helps get honest, classic, uncomplicated European and Asia dishes onto your table with minimum fuss and effort on your part. Get A Helping Hand from the various stockists in Singapore or online at a special price of SGD 39.90. We hear a Bahasa version is in the pipeline too. Akan datang!

Disclosure: Frog Michaels has very kindly gifted her cookbook to my trusty helper, A. No monetary compensation was received and all opinions here are my own. Helper A thinks ‘A Helping Hand’ has made her more confident in the kitchen and she is immensely grateful! 

All this blog's PR Stuff Motherkao loves... Reviews

Give meaning & memories this Christmas – Print for Fun photo prints

December 2, 2016

This Christmas, may I encourage you to give your loved ones your presence and meaningful presents that add value and meaning to their lives.

Like memories.

And precious moments.

We received an early Christmas present this year from Print For Fun which completely surprised me. I would say it was one of the most meaningful gifts my family had ever received.

I mean, someone actually took the time, culled through my IG feed, picked out the many happy memories my family had this year and put them beautifully in a collage.

And then framed it up and delivered it to my doorstep.

I mean, how thoughtful can a gift like this get?

I’m so thrilled by the idea of this idea – going online and choosing a collage of photos (2×2, 3×3 or 4×4) and have them within a 9″x 9″ black frame.

Or making a collage poster for your favourite family.

Or printing the loveliest of a friend’s smile on canvas; and then having her get your gift in the mail.

They say it’s the thought that counts, and with this gift idea, it’s making every thought (of that someone you’re gifting to) count.

And just for Motherkao readers, get a 10% off all photo print products on Print For Fun by entering the promo code MOTHERKAOXPFF when checking out (promo ends 31 Dec 2016).

How’s that for the most wonderful time of the year?

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!

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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 Food, glorious food! The Kao Kids

Wrapping up this Children’s Day

October 6, 2016

Recently, Mission Foods Singapore threw me a challenge to surprise my children by making them a “fun and creative meal made from healthy wraps” for Children’s Day.

Challenge accepted, I say! These days, anything that falls in the category of the Food Department goes straight to their father. Hurhurhur.

So I told the husband about this challenge and asked him to think of something that would get the kids to eat wraps. The kids have never eaten anything with wraps, and so it was a challenge on two counts: one, to make something healthy or fun or creative; and two, to make something they would eat.

He took up the challenge gamely with the following:

Step 1:Sear fresh prawns with olive oil and a dash of salt and pepper, and then dice

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Step 2: Dice onions and tomatoes and toss with a dash of olive oil

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Step 3: Mash kiwi of the yellow kind

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Step 4: Mix all ingredients 

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Step 5: Add pan-seared chicken breast (optional)

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Step 6: Put them all in a Mission Foods wrap 

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Step 7: Enjoy

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Wa la. A simple wrap-tastic meal that’s done in less than an hour.

A healthy meal with fruit, veggies, carbs and protein.

Did the kids eat the wraps and enjoy their first experience? Well, let’s just say we might try tacos the next time because they kept screaming roti prata and I wasn’t about to pass the sugar.

~~~

Disclosure: Mission Foods Singapore sent us the wraps that were used for this challenge. All opinions – and the no-fuss recipe – are our own. No child was harmed for being worked as labour to mash the kiwi.

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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legolandhalloweenoct2016_kaokids-121

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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.

legolandhalloweenoct2016_kaokids-124

legolandhalloweenoct2016_kaokids-125

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.

legolandhalloweenfun_kaokids

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 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.

All this blog's PR Stuff Food, glorious food! Reviews

The Forgotten Recipe, where food is remembered [Review]

August 24, 2016

I treasure the weekends a lot these days because when we’re up for it, the family goes exploring. I’m so glad the kids are old enough now and have a great sense of adventure. Ever since we’ve moved, we’ve been checking out places we otherwise wouldn’t if we were still staying at the northeast of Singapore. We’ve done a fair bit of cafe hopping at Holland Village and Dempsey already, and lately found ourselves entranced by the charms of the Tiong Bahru neighbourhood.

Tiong Bahru market was where I was in chwee kueh heaven, slurped up bowls of pork porridge and made my father queue for crystal paus as a child.

And here’s where we also found a newly opened concept bistro that’s such a brilliant idea – completely congruent with the rustic-ness of the old and new in Tiong Bahru – and which makes us wonder why hasn’t anyone thought of such a concept for a restaurant of bistro till now?

It’s called The Forgotten Recipe.

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And what does it serve?

Forgotten recipes, and good ol’ comfort food my ah ma would be proud of.

We joined The Forgotten Recipe for their brunch buffet some time ago, and were impressed with some classic dishes that brought back feelings of warmth, comfort and simplicity. I hear that the brunch buffet happens every Saturday and there’ll be activities lined up for the kids in a separate play room within the bistro.

Which means the adults can take their time to eat, or come with company, and the kids can be gainfully occupied if they are done with their eating.

That Saturday, my kids got their hands busy playing with train tracks and car tracks, and making Angry Birds clay figurines while Fatherkao and I ate took our time to savour each dish, go for seconds, and then have dessert and coffee.

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Warming up after the stomach’s filled on playmats

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Facilitated clay modelling activity

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Look, Mama. I made RED!

The buffet line was jaw dropping with its variety of comfort food and classic dishes ranging for potato gratin and tahu goreng to devil’s curry and chai tow kway. I found the devil’s curry most satisfying; the chef nailed it with its aromatic flavours and spice level, complete with the tender chicken thighs that came with the dish.

I didn’t manage to capture my devil’s curry on my plate, so here’s a mouthwatering picture, courtesy of The Forgotten Recipe

It was like being invited to a Eurasian home for a cosy dinner.

The other dish I found novel was the tok tok mee, which was a simple noodle dish cooked in flavourful broth. There’s a sense of nostalgia eating a dish like this, and it made me wish I could have muah chee and dragon beard candy and kacang puteh after eating that bowl, just like in my childhood days.

Simple tok tok mee with belachan filled with flavours to savour!

Simple tok tok mee with belachan filled with flavours to savour!

Another dish worth a mention from the buffet line was the tahu goreng. The key to a successful tahu goreng is fresh tahu and smooth, flavourful peanut sauce. Which we got – piping hot.

Would be interesting to see The Forgotten Recipe recreate versions of that peanut sauce from experienced makciks willing to share all their recipes and provide an assortment of various Forgotten peanut toppings!

Picture credit: The Forgotten Recipe (I suck at food photography. I only dig in!)

Picture credit: The Forgotten Recipe (As you can tell, I was too busy eating I didn’t grab a picture of my tahu goreng too!)

Dessert was chendol which was a sweet end to balance out the savoury from the buffet line. I’ve had better ones in Melaka, of course, but the kids totally love that there’s ice cream in it, which was a treat on a hot day.

They've got one thing right here for sure: chendol has to be eaten with a metal spoon!

They’ve got one thing right here for sure: chendol has to be eaten with a metal spoon!

And while we took our time to eat, the kids played the afternoon away, and that was how a lazy Saturday afternoon was spent in this quaint neighbourhood I have so many fond memories of. I recounted to the kids how I ate my first bowl of yong tau foo here, which came with blood pudding, and loved every bite of it (much to their disgust), and how my aunt would bus my cousins and I from Bukit Merah where she lived to Tiong Bahru to eat that, and fishball noodles, and roast pork rice, and all of what I knew to be yummy since childhood. I recalled memories of running and playing along the same pavements we walked and how this place is one of the few that make up the Singapore I love.

Time has passed but much of the facade in this neighbourhood still remains. And how apt it was to be reminiscing childhood in a place like The Forgotten Recipe – a new within the old, and created to help people savour their food memories.

~~~

More details:

The Forgotten Recipe is at 3 Seng Poh Road, S168891. Since our visit, they’ve done a couple of really brilliant things like letting you customise your own National Day brunch buffet by bringing back local delights, and launching some new fusion creations. Follow them on their Facebook page for more updates.

The Forgotten Recipe also invites you to revive old and forgotten recipes by submitting them.

It’s nice to create new memories and be involved in the process of recreating dishes that were from days yonder.

All this blog's PR Stuff Everyday fun! Homelearning fun Learning fun! Nat Kao Reviews

Keen-to-learn Nat (ft. a review of Gakken’s Go Go Series)

August 16, 2016

Nat has a super competitive streak. He’s very aware of his siblings’ existence and abilities, and despite being 4 yearns to be learning what they learn, knowing what they know and doing what they do.

If korkor can build a Lego set from scratch, so can I, says Nat.

If Becks is learning phonics, I can learn phonics too. Hey everyone, hear me sound the letters. Annie Apple says ‘Aaa’, says Nat.

If korkor is learning how to volley, I can also do that. All he needs is to teach me what he learns in tennis, says Nat.

Look, Mama. I can spell and write my name! says Nat.

This boy is one eager beaver, I tell you. Whenever we visit a book store or any Popular fair, my eldest asks for construction toys (?!?!), my daughter wants stationery and my youngest begs to buy activity books. He wants to be tracing, playing maze puzzle games and colouring.

And so his wish came true when Gakken Asia Pacific sent him their Go-Go Brain Development Series last month:

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Imagine his happiness: activity books filled with fun games of helping animals find their way through mazes and tons of sticker fun. There’s counting involved and lots of animals (too cute!) to be amused by page after page.

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There’s even a guide for parents on how to use the series to teach useful skills to your child.

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See how much fun he’s had, and how focused and serious about his learning he can be, tracing with his fingers and holding a pencil:

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After every page of fun, all I got was a beaming face and an earnest boy asking to do more.

~~~

Activity books like these are my go-to resource to minimise screen time. Being engaged in one of these also help the little ones develop a sense of confidence that they are building new skills – all those peeling of stickers help to develop hand-eye coordination; the maze puzzles help train concentration and pencil control; the adorable animal characters can inspire a child to start drawing (or copying) and best of all, a child spends quality time with his mama!

It’s a great alternative to giving a child a tablet or mobile phone and it encourages a child to learn enthusiastically through fun ways. I know for sure that Nat loved every minute working on every page.

My only complaint was that his fun ended too soon and I have to start ordering more of these to keep his enthusiasm going!

More details + discount code + GIVEAWAY (yay!):

The Gakken Go-Go series activity books are available on sale at the following stores:

  • All Popular Bookstores
  • Play ‘N’ Learn (FREE SHIPPING for Motherkao readers/followers)
  • Openschoolbag (USE GAKKEN10 for a 10% discount when checking out)

You can also download the digital trial version (IOS only) on https://itunes.apple.com/sg/app/gakken-go-go-educational-interactive/id1091487932?mt=8.

And just for Motherkao readers, Gakken Asia Pacific is giving 4 activity books to 4 readers* of this blog, just so you can experience the fun in learning through the Go-Go Series.

Simply log in to the Rafflecopter app here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*T&C: The Go-Go Series is suitable for ages 2 – 6. Your details will be collected by Gakken Asia Pacific for the purpose of delivery if you win. Whether Gakken Asia Pacific sends you the book of your choice or randomises a selection is completely up to the company’s discretion.

The titles that have a star are NOT available.

The titles that have a star next to it are NOT available.

Disclosure: Nat received 3 activity books from the Gakken Go-Go Series for the purpose of this review. He’s been having lots of maze-puzzle and sticker fun ever since. All opinions here are Motherkao’s own.

All this blog's PR Stuff Everyday fun! Motherkao loves... Product Reviews The Kao Kids

Handy helpers with their handy helper – Review of the new Dyson V8 Fluffy

August 12, 2016

Apart from that time when we were maidless in the Kao household, my children have never volunteered themselves to do any form of cleaning.

My helper has been with us for her third year now, and I haven’t had the need to write any more maid woes related posts (phew) because she’s been super amazing. Except that it leaves me with one problem.

She does everything so well and quick that there isn’t any need for my kids to learn to clean up after themselves.

The living room’s messy with 964 Lego bricks in all shapes and sizes scattered everywhere… Who do we call?

AUNTY A!!!

The craft trolley’s in a huge mess and we’ve spilled glue and glitter and cut up lots of teeny weeny bits of yarn… Who do we call?

AUNTY A!!!

We’re shredding paper cos’ it’s so fun and Mama lets us do lots of sensory play with dough and water babies and all the bubble wraps and we’re so tired we can’t clean up… Who do we call?

AUNTY A!!!

But one fine day last month, something changed.

Ok, only one Fluffy came to stay, not three.

Ok, so only one Fluffy came to stay, not three.

This came into our lives on a fateful day in July and took permanent residence in the Kao household. And now, the default “person” to call isn’t Aunty A anymore, but Fluffy.

And can I say something? Fluffy’s arrival has changed my children. FOR THE BETTER.

You see, this amazing Fluffy has turned my kids into handy helpers overnight and got them suddenly interested in doing housework. These kids, especially Ben, are cleaning floors, picking up dirt after craft and doing a great job keeping our walls and floor spotless. Even the fans are largely dust-free these days, thanks to them and Fluffy.

Unwrapping Fluffy

Unwrapping Fluffy

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Fixing up our handy helper

Mr James Dyson, I already adore you for inventing the bladeless fan that’s been keeping those little curious fingers in my brood safe. Now I love you even more for trying 5127 times getting this V8 out in the market and making little helpful troopers out of my children.

We learned from the box that James Dyson made 5127 prototypes!

We learned from the box which Fluffy came in that James Dyson made 5127 prototypes!

You’re a genius.

And here – just for you, I’ve listed 5 reasons why the new Dyson V8 Fluffy is amazing, all thanks to Mr Dyson, freeing my helper’s hands and keeping my children’s hands busy.

Here’s why it’s really great to have one, and why we all love this vacuum cleaner.

1. The new Dyson V8 Fluffly gives a whole new meaning to lightweight.

Fluffy weighs 2.6kg. ONLY. Inside the cord-free Dyson V8 Fluffy, key components like the motor and battery are positioned near the hand. This shifts the centre of gravity, making the cleaning end of the vacuum much lighter, so it’s easy to clean up top and down below.

Which is why even a 4-year-old can pick it up and help with the cleaning.

Keeping the walls dust free is so easy!

Keeping the walls dust free is so easy!

2. It looks like a really cool weapon which Ben uses while pretending to be a super hero = it’s great to be cleaning up while using it for pretend play 

Fluffy has no cord. So there’s nothing to unravel, plug in, drag around and restrict your reach. Equipped with a docking and charging station, you can grab and clean whenever you need to. Much like going to a weapon room and picking up a weapon to exterminate the bad guys to satisfy every boy’s fantasy like Iron Man.

Looks like a cool weapon for a cool boy. Image taken at the V8 Media Preview

Looks like a cool weapon for a cool boy. Image taken at the V8 Media Preview

That’s what Ben thinks, at least. Dust, hair and eraser shavings are the ‘bad guys’ these days.

Eraser shaving attack!

Eraser shaving attack!

So easy! So fun!

3. Its dirt ejector makes it so easy to handle dirt.

So once upon a time, I was a paranoid mother when my children picked up brooms and vacuums. I’ll worry that dirt would fly into their respiratory systems and make them cough/sneeze/wheeze and give them clogged pores.

Fast forward to today, after welcoming Fluffy.

Fluffy features a new bin emptying mechanism that’s never been seen in any other. As the bin is emptied, a rubber collar slides down the shroud, scraping dirt off. This enables the user to hygienically drive out trapped dust and debris in a single action, with no need to touch the dirt. Additionally, the bin has higher capacity than previous generation machines.

Side profile of Fluffy's dust ejector - you can see what gets sucked up clearly without needing to breathe in dust!

Side profile of Fluffy’s dust ejector – you can see what gets sucked up clearly without needing to breathe in dust!

Plus, Fluffy has a whole machine HEPA filtration, which means that it captures and retains more dust using patented 2 Tier Radial™ cyclones. 15 cyclones, arranged across two tiers, generate powerful centrifugal forces to spin dust and dirt out of the airflow. Any remaining particles are captured by the post motor filter – including allergens and bacteria as small as 0.3 microns.

And because the entire system is engineered to be sealed, the air that leaves the machine is cleaner than the air you breathe.

Speak English, you say.

This just means that if you’re near the vacuum cleaner, it is filtering air for you and you are breathing cleaner air than if you were away from the vacuum. Geddit? 

Kids, use Fluffy all you want, anytime, all the time! Mama is paranoid no more about dust!

4. It’s so quiet nobody knows you’re vacuuming (playing with it).

Now, in our household, we’ve been through vacuum cleaners over the years that look like R2D2 on the loose and tell the whole world you are vacuuming the house with the loud, driveyoubatshitcrazy-kind of motor.

What I particularly like about this fella called Fluffy is that it purrs. So UN-loudly.

Which means sometimes, I don’t even realise my son is engaging in his Iron Man fantasies exterminating dirt and dust because it doesn’t tell the world he’s with a vacuum in the house. Or my daughter sneaking Fluffy into the room and pretends to play house with it. Fluffy never gives her away.

Dyson invests heavily in optimising the acoustics of its technologies. Where more power typically translates to more noise, the Dyson V8 makes only a light reverberating sound despite its powerful suction.

That’s the kind of quiet cool I like.

I found her quietly engaged in pretend play one evening in the guise of cleaning the bed

I found her quietly engaged in pretend play one evening in the guise of cleaning the bed

5. Versatility, uninterrupted + drop also never mind.

Strong materials with durable and lightweight properties were chosen in the construction of the Dyson V8. The polycarbonate clear bin is made from the same durable material as riot shields.

And have I mentioned that Fluffy is extremely versatile?

Fluffy excels at picking up both large debris and fine dust particles at the same time

Due to their design, many conventional cleaner heads are unable to suck up fine dust and large debris simultaneously. In order to suck up large debris, a large gap is required between the cleaner head and the floor. This gap can allow suction to escape, and fine dust is left behind on the floor surface and in crevices. To remove fine dust from the floor surface and crevices, a cleaner head needs a tight seal with the floor to prevent suction power from leaking. A tight seal means that large debris is pushed along the floor.

Frustrated with the limitations of conventional cleaner heads, Dyson engineers went back to the drawing board to design a new kind of cleaner head that was effective at picking up both fine dust and large debris at the same time. Instead of a brush bar with bristles, the Dyson V8 Fluffy cordless vacuum has a roller covered entirely in soft woven nylon. This traps large debris, whilst four rows of anti-static carbon fibre filaments remove fine dust.

English please, again, you say?

Just means that it’s sturdy and clever and can use to clean practically anything VERY EFFICIENTLY.

Real solid, this fella.

Cleaning made so easy for a 7-year-old

Cleaning made so easy for a 7-year-old

Now, if I can have my way to influence Mr Dyson’s next invention, or an improved version of Fluffy, may I suggest the following?

I’d like Fluffy to be able to pick up wet things too. Because my children put milk in their cereal and accidents always happen at breakfast, I really hope for once that they can settle their own mess without needing an adult to go on all fours with a cloth.

I’d like Fluffy to go longer than 40 minutes (Fluffy works hard for 40 minutes when fully charged). 40 minutes doesn’t seem enough if you have kids multiply by 3 who love to sharpen their pencils and erase non stop, leaving a trail of shavings from coloured pencils and charcoal erasers AND who like to take turns indulging their own weaponry fantasy while cleaning up.

Other than that, all’s good.

You absolutely need to get one to get your kids started.

I probably need to have 3 to have peace at home, because everyone’s fighting over Fluffy now.

More details:

The Dyson V8 is now available in major departmental stores and electrical multiples. The machine includes a 2 year warranty on parts and labour and retails at SGD 1, 099.

Disclosure: The Kao kids new handy helper was given to us by Dyson for the purpose of this review. No monetary compensation was received and all opinions, including my utmost adoration for Mr Dyson and my son’s deep love for Tony Stark are our own. And we’ve got nothing against R2D2 looklalikes, by the way.