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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.

Becks Kao Motherkao loves... Reviews

The haircut after the haircut that went wrong (ft. a review of Aqua Korean Hair Salon)

July 19, 2016

So we all know that my little girl had a haircut gone wrong.

She was very upset with how short her hair turned out to be and threw a fit two weeks ago. Thankfully she is also one happy-go-lucky girl who bears no grudges and after we kissed and made up that night, she showed her mama she loved her more than she ever did.

What a wonderful little girl. Feisty and stubborn as she can be, sometimes hurling hurtful words to break my heart but also endearing and very expressive with her little acts of affection at the same time.

Just last Wednesday, after I returned home declaring that I was done with filming (the Channel 8 folks came by and interviewed me for Money Week 财经追击), my kids promptly echoed a chorus:

‘TIME TO CUT YOUR HAIR, MAMA!’

You see, out of panic at the salon the other day, I had randomly asked Becks if she wanted me to cut my hair too to ‘keep her company’. To which she said a resounding yes. I was held ransom immediately by the offer but got off the hook when I told her that I could only do it after Wednesday because I didn’t want to have short hair for TV.

She remembered. And so did her brothers who overheard everything we said.

Oh well. Don’t believe your kids if they tell you they can’t remember anything.

~~~

For my haircut, I took the chance to try out a Korean hair salon near where I worked.

So after this…

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this…

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and this was done…

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I am happy ]to say I now have shorter hair than Becks’ and ain’t no one’s going to be complaining anymore about any haircut gone wrong.

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Of course, the little girl was really happy she’s finally got company.

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~~~

A quick review about the hair salon:

I love k-culture and have been immersed in it for close to 6 years now. It started with Running Man and quickly morphed into a crazy love for everything K – food, hairstyles, fashion, people, drama and history. For the longest time I’ve wanted to get a Korean hairstylist to do my hair, and when I finally did at Aqua Korean Hair Salon, I did it over very few words and lots of quiet flipping of CeCi magazines.

You need to completely trust that a Korean hairstylist knows exactly what to do when you give him simple words like ‘short’, ‘c-curl’ and ‘volume rebond’, and even then with Moon, my stylist, he was first to suggest I was good to go with just an A-line bob because my hair’s really straight anyway, and if I were to be diligent to blow dry it daily, I would have a similar c-curl effect. I liked that he was honest, and didn’t try to hard sell anything that didn’t make sense.

But I’ve always wanted to try the c-curl and know for a fact that no one else would do it better than a Korean (plus I love Kim Ji Won’s hair in DOTS) and told Moon to go ahead and try it on me.

KJW in DOTS (Photo credit: KBS)

KJW in DOTS
(Photo credit: KBS)

And he did. He unassumingly worked on every strand and step, with quiet confidence and finesse.

The result? I. loved. it. much.

I managed to even tell him that in Korean.

좋아. 진짜좋아. (Joa. Jjinja joa.)

Haircut at Aqua Korean Hair Salon (5)

More details:

Aqua Hair Salon is at Delfi Orchard #03-16, next to the best place to do your brows, Browtisan. Connect with them on their FB Page – you can make appointments and get a non-obligatory consultation by leaving the stylists a message on FB, or contact them at 6732 8011.

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. All recommendations and opinions are solely my own.

All this blog's PR Stuff Milestones and growing up Reading fun Reviews The Kao Kids

Can books fly? Yes, they can! (Review of Flying Books Subscription)

June 28, 2016

Those of you who have followed me from Day One would know how much I advocate reading.

Some years back, I did a series on Teaching the Kao Kids and how to raise readers (you can read the first post here, second one here & third one here). I’m also known as a mom (still!) who refuses to throw an iPad or mobile to my kids to keep them entertained. Till now, my friends whom we dine out with are pretty amazed that my kids still take out books to read while waiting for food to come. I’m really glad to have started on the right footing with the boundaries on technology and heartened that the kids have fallen head over heels with books.

I pretty much rely on book lists from these sources: flavorwire and huffingtonpost, and I try to buy books that have been recognised by the Caldecott Medal (and its respective Honor Books). The kids and I often enjoy these reads when I purchase them online from Open Trolley, Book Depository and occasionally, The Groovy Giraffe.

But getting books and replenishing our library often requires a regular exercise of me getting updates from my go-to-sources and searching for them online (plus comparing prices and wait time) and this can only mean that our collection can get quite stale if I get too busy to support their voracious reading appetites.

So boy am I glad to learn that books can fly to us if my schedules get busy and the kids want to be reading new titles.

You heard me right, books can fly to you, regularly and thoughtfully.

Flying Books is a book subscription that curates books for your little ones and sends them to your doorstep. The books are selected based on the little one’s age group and come from a carefully handpicked list of best published children’s books. The format of books vary between board books and picture books (either paperback or hardcover) and will always take into consideration of the age group of the child they are sent to.

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Nicole Martins who founded Flying Books and learned that her dream of bringing stories to children to ignite their imagination was the reason for starting this business. Nicole works out of Trehaus which I co-founded, and we get excited just talking about our dream of having our children loving to read. I’ve also asked her if parents like me who buy A LOT of books for my children were a good fit for her curated subscription service, and she answered me by letting my children experience the ‘Siblings – One Time Gift Packgage‘ for myself (customised for 3 instead of 2 kids, though). I was mainly concerned about having repeats (which Nicole says would be avoided because an email would be sent out to the parents to ensure that the child will be getting a surprise in the mail and not an existing title) and that the books would be suited for my three children who were at very different reading milestones.

And what a surprise we got when we received our Flying Books delivered to us.

What's in the parcel?

What’s in the parcel?

It’s like Christmas coming early with all the prettily wrapped up presents.

Christmas came early!

Christmas came early!

After we unwrapped the books, we found a personalised letter introducing the books that the kids have received.

When I learned what the titles they received were, I instinctly knew that the selection was age-appropriate and helps in developing their reading milestones: Nat would get some texture play and a colourful story read to him; Becks could try blending words to help in her reading complete with lots of visuals; and Ben could definitely take off on his own, reading an exciting sequel to a book he’s previously read and loved.

Such details to fill the parents in on what her kids would be getting!

Such details to fill the parents in on what her kids would be getting!

Nat received Sharing a Shell by Julia Donaldson; Becks got Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late by Mo Willems and Ben received the sequel to Drew Daywalt’s The Day the Crayons Quit, which was The Day the Crayons Came Home.

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Books to read, hooray!

 

Wasted no time in reading

Wasted no time in reading

The books had extremely good mileage for the entire month. The kids exchanged their books frequently and bugged various storytellers in the house to read them aloud, namely me and their father, and occasionally Ben who is great doing voices.

We thoroughly enjoyed the glitter from Sharing a Shell, particularly the littlest who was kinda obsessed with rubbing every page (never too old for some sensory experience!). We had a good time role-playing the narrator who’s tasked to not let the pigeon convince us of staying up late. And there’s nothing not to love about Oliver Jeffers’ illustrations of the flustered, whiny, frustrated crayons in Daywalt’s The Day the Crayons Came Home and we had many nights of laughter with both the quitting book and the coming home book.

We love the crayons most, definitely.

Altogether now, rubbing the glitter on the book

Altogether now, rubbing the glitter on the book

We’re thankful that Flying Books lets us experience so much reading pleasure from these titles, and I’ll be the first here to recommend this to parents with young children at various age groups (take the Siblings package!) because it saves you the trouble of handpicking books for your kids in line with their development and literacy skills. Although the subscription service currently only curates for 12 months to 6 years, I am confident that a 7 or 8 year-old can still enjoy the titles meant for a 6-year-old.

Or gift them (buy one-time packages) to a child whom you know would love to receive exciting titles on a special occasion. How’s that for a really thoughtful birthday present?

And for those who wish to make reading a lifelong habit for your kid(s), Flying Books is a good way to start. It’s all the guess work done for you, which means you don’t have to constantly check for the latest popular published titles and rifle through bookstores. Plus, I know Nicole goes to great lengths in curating only the best for your child because I watch her work passionately every day, which means that you’ll always be promised quality and awesome books!

Giveaway & Discount Code, courtesy of Flying Books

  • And just for readers of this blog, Flying Books is doing a giveaway of 3 x Flying Books Gift Package (one-time package) to be sent in July to 3 special kids!

Participate using the Rafflecopter app here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway ends 17 July 2016. Please note that Flying Books curate books for 12 months to 6 years only. Winners will be notified via email and information about your child’s age will be collected by Flying Books so that the age-appropriate gift package can be delivered to you.

  • Flying Books is also offering a 5% discount off the 3-month subscription plans (for both regular & siblings) in addition to the published discounted rate. Use the promo codes MOTHERKAO & MOTHERKAOSIB respectively when you check out.

~~~

Happy reading!

“You can find magic wherever you look. Sit back and relax, all you need is a book.” – Dr Seuss

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

4 places you absolutely need to play at this June holidays

June 19, 2016

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

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

Bring back play at its purest, I say.

1. PLAYEUM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Questions asked at Make Believe Hideaway:

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

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

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

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

Convos overheard at Sounds of the Earth:

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

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

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

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Did someone mention termites earlier? Ewwwww…

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

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

Questions at Welcome to My World:

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

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Playeum_Hideaways (60)

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

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

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

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

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More details: 

2. Imaginarium

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

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

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

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

In this case, the issue of ocean pollution.

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

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

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

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

More details: 

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

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

3. KidsSTOP™ at Singapore Science Centre

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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More details:

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

Admission charges in this link here and operating hours here.

4. The TrehausKids Atelier!

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

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

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

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

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More details:

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

 

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Sleepyhead attack, here comes… [Review of ‘Meet the Wakersaur’]

June 6, 2016

Have you met the Wakersaur?

The wwwhaaat-wa-saur?

It’s a new monster in da’hood whom we’ve recently had the pleasure to meet. He apparently wakes any sleepyhead from slumber when it’s time to.

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Something like an alarm clock. Only more invasive.

Meet the Wakersaur is a light-hearted and funny children’s story about a made-up creature that’s specially “equipped” to wake sleepyhead children up in the morning. It is written by an old friend of mine from college – local author Shervin Seah – who tells me that this story was inspired by his own experiences of trying to wake his own kid up on a typical school day. As with all parents who’s got lazybones and sleepyheads, he’s ended up having to resort to a host of crazy antics from stubble-rubbing to tickling and furious kisses.

The book is also illustrated by up and coming local illustrator, Candice Phang, and contains wacky, entertaining visuals for the little ones.

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The Kao kids enjoyed the story and shared many laughs over the many reads they’ve had with Ben as the storyteller (since he’s able to be reading aloud well). Nat and Becks dig the idea of their brother doing voices and being the Wakersaur, and find his various versions of the Wakersaur’s  ‘Still asleep???’ extremely amusing.

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Meet the Wakersaur (1)

But nothing beats having their father read aloud this book. There’s the part where rubbing stubbles is part of the game and my kids totally love rolling on the bed having to endure that from their dad. With Fatherkao as the storyteller, the story comes complete with tickling, snorting and startling, and a whole load of guffawing and cackling on the bed.

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Snuggle time in bed to meet the Wakersaur

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There’s a part about grubby nose and everyone can identify!

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What are stubbles, Dad? the littles ask. They would soon find out!

Meet the Wakersaur promises to be an entertaining and interactive read and draws the playfulness and imagination out of children and adults alike. Quite a bit of fun to be had with this book, in my opinion – and helps in bonding too.

I know my kids and their dad did!

More details:

Meet the Wakersaur is authored by Shervin Seah and illustrated by Candice Phang. The book retails at Popular and MPH at SGD 16 and is suitable for ages  2-6.

If you’d like to meet the Wakersaur too, the blog is doing a giveaway for 5 readers! Simply participate in the giveaway here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway ends 20 June 2016. Get ready to meet the Wakersaur!

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Clicking and creating – Miclik construction fun [Review]

April 11, 2016

The kids love to build. They love to build and demolish; and then build and build and build some more. We’ve amassed a whole lot of building toys from blocks to Lego bricks, including the Duplo, as well as Playmobil sets and a whole bunch of rods and magnetic balls for creating and constructing for hours on end.

As part of my work at Trehaus, I recently got to meet the youthful and enterprising people behind Explorer Junior. These folks take entrepreneurship to a whole new level – they started this enrichment enterprise wholly believing that every child is a curious explorer and unique in his own way. Their keen interest in early childhood led them to create programmes to engage little hands and minds in topics like science, history and current affairs. And they started this while being undergraduates in NUS. Woah. I was only looking for internships as an undergrad.

Talk about getting a headstart, these enthusiastic folks.

Clearly, I am already impressed! So when they approached me to review these construction toy called Miclik from Barcelona, I know my kids would be thrilled.

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Other than its really hard to pronounce name, Miclik is a bundle and burst of colours. Every box comes with 48 connectors in four different colours. A girl like Becks was terribly excited to see construction toys come in hot pink at last and it made me very happy to see her beam and think that she could now at last create a world of princess possibilities.

And made she did:
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The boys took their favourite colours – Ben yellow and Nat green – and created dragons that could fly and monsters, barricades and snakes. It’s funny how they threw the suggestions from the Miclik instruction booklet out of the window (not literally) and embarked in creating things long and beast-like.

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Boys.

I found the Miclik plastic connectors a pleasure to hold and use. There are no sharp corners and every piece is of the same shape and size – a huge reprieve from all those Lego bricks I have been constantly stepping on and finding in odd corners. It’s easy to pack and keep, and perfect for an OCD mother to sort. However, I must say, it didn’t have as much mileage as the huge bag of unsorted Lego we have. The kids were a bit challenged after a while. Because the dragons and beasts need to be slayed by wizards and knights and they needed to go back to their Lego minifigures. And guess what happens when they open up their Lego bag? They forgot what they wanted to do with their Miclik creations.

Nonetheless, it was a pleasure building with Miclik. I guess the little girl had the most fun. At least until the pink pieces ran out.

Miclik is sold exclusively at Explorer Junior (here for more details) at SGD 49.90, and in my opinion, makes a great gift for birthdays and Christmas. It’s extremely kind for little hands that are 3- 6 years (and even older), especially if these hands are not ready for Lego yet. I hear too, that Miclik is designed and produced with the philosophy of being “respectful to the environment” and “safe and honest with the materials” in mind (source). Ok, more reasons to buy this as gifts, and for our little ones!

Now, for the GIVEAWAY!

The folks at Explorer Junior are giving away 3 boxes of Miclik to keep three pairs of little hands engaged and busy with building and creating! Participate in the giveaway through Rafflecopter here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Giveaway ends 30th April 2016 (12am).

Disclosure: We were given two sets of Miclik for the purpose of this review. All opinions here, especially on OCD, Lego constuction and a little girl’s preference are all my own.

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

March 30, 2016

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

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

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

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

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This is Sky Habitat, located at Bishan Street 15

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The view from below

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

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

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

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

1. Taking a chill pill on the Sky Bridge

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

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

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

Late afternoon lazing on the Sky Bridge on Level 38

Late afternoon lazing on the Sky Bridge on Level 38

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

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

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

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

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

2. Dining at the Sky Terrace with family

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

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

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

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

A very sumptuous spread indeed!

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Happy to be eating and watching the sun set

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

3. Sports for all

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

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

While Ben trained hard for tennis...

While Ben trained hard for tennis…

Grandpa and Grandma jumped in the pool...

Grandpa and Grandma jumped in the pool…

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

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

We all paid some overdue exercise debts that day

We all paid some overdue exercise debt that day

4. Awesome skyline by the Sky Pool

This. This is the view. ‘Nuff said.

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

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

5. Private Movie Theatre

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

Soundproof? Check.

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

Super luxe seats? Check.

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

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

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

It’s movie time!

6. Luxe of Space

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

The very spacious living area that can comfortably sit 10

The very spacious living area that can comfortably sit 10

Watching TV and lazing after dinner

Watching TV and lazing after dinner

With Nat busy capturing the faces of everyone

With Nat busy capturing the faces of everyone

Playing hide-and-seek in the study

Becks playing hide-and-seek in the study

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

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

Gong gong finding respite at the Sky Terrace

Gong gong finding respite on the Sky Terrace

Boys hanging out at the bar counter

Boys hanging out at the bar counter

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

7. Chillaxing by the Children’s Pool

View of the pool from the 19th floor

View of the pool from the 19th floor

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

Pool-noodling in the wading pool

Pool-noodling in the wading pool

Chillax. Goodnight, world.

Goodnight, world.

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

8. Simplicity

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

9. Convenience all around

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

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

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

That's the convenience right under our nose

That’s the convenience right under our nose

Kids got their shopping fix at Junction 8

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

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

10. 10-minutes drive to Bishan Park!

We can see Sky Habitat in the background!

We can see Sky Habitat in the background!

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

Happy to be here

Happy to be here

Watching the dogs

Watching the dogs

And our leisurely stroll concludes our very relaxing weekend

And our leisurely stroll concludes our very relaxing weekend

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

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

Thank you, Capitaland, for having us!

More details:

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

 

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

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Sparking a child’s creativity: How “messy” can be good

February 7, 2016

This story first appeared on Yahoo with edits: http://lego.featured.yahoo.com/post/134763175341/sparking-a-childs-creativity-how-messy-can-be

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Have you seen our LEGO mess? It’s one of those massive ones that you need to close both your eyes, hold your breath and pretend it doesn’t exist.

Over the years with LEGO, I realised that there are two schools of thought. The first one belongs to the sorters, people who like their LEGO bricks organised, categorised and colour coded. I’ve seen a few mom friends make many return trips to DAISO to get plastic boxes to sort them out prettily and systematically, and posting the glorious outcomes of their labour on IG and FB, and I am envious. Bless those eyes, how hard they must have squinted!

Every fibre of my human make belongs to this category, if you don’t already know. I am quite the OCD person in my more than my 3 decades of existence.

But every ounce of my mom-being has forced myself to subscribe to the second school of thought – the one that advocates for a creative, happy mess.

I’ve held my tongue, resisted the urge to sort, and have never once told the kids to leave whatever they build as they are (so counter to the OCD nature, I know).

The refrain has always been: you build, you play, you dismantle, you keep; and the cycle repeats.

And this big pink drawstring bag containing a happy unsorted massive mess has inspired creativity in the Kao kids to infinity and beyond:

Case in point: the LEGO and Yahoo folks dropped me a mail a few weeks ago to say they were sending across a Ninjago Master Wu Dragon LEGO theme set, and I had announced to the kids that they would soon start a new LEGO project, much to their jubilation.

Now, my kids have a mother who is strict with screen time. And so while they are familiar with Ninjago from that very one LEGO magazine Ben has, they don’t know who’s who, what names belong to what ninja, much less the fact that there’s a dragon in the picture. In fact, their mom’s a Wu, and that by defaults makes me the Master Wu of the house (hurhurhur), and that’s about all the connection we can make with this thing coming our way.

But does it stop them from getting excited about the story of Ninjago, Master Wu and the dragon?

You guessed it right, if you know them by now. The answer is no; and the extension of it is that they can totally make up a whole LEGOverse filled with ninjas, masters, dragons, monsters, robots and funky people and spin many stories, talking for hours on end.

And play for a long time even before the theme set arrives.

And when it did, they admired (and used) the box for a few days first!

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When it was finally inviting enough for them to decide to open the set, all it took was four solid hours of concentration from 6-year-old Ben, some sorting help from 5-year-old Becks, and lots of encouragement from 3-year-old Nat who took on the role of fixing minifigs for his brother to get this out.

Ninjago Master Wu Dragon

Ninjago Master Wu Dragon completed

And this dragon, complete with the ninjas, are now ready to enter the story that’s been spunned, imagined and reimagined days before they were being made, which provided many hours of storytelling fun for all three kids.

Ninjago fun

I believe one of the benefits of not sorting their LEGO out is that it promotes on the spot, thinking on one’s feet kind of inspiration to create as one thinks and finds. I am amazed by the endless stories my kids are telling while constructing, arranging and piecing, and that itself is stimulation and fodder for creativity, oral language development, and entertainment for me, that’s for sure!

Disclosure: This post was brought to you by Yahoo. The set mentioned in the picture was generously sponsored by LEGO. All opinions are my own.

P/S: I still believe in the goodness of being organised, and am thinking that as the kids get older, they would need to start sorting for more efficient building. Till then!