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Hey, Mom! We’re in a storybook! [Review: Kid Hero Stories]

April 15, 2015

I’ve never really had a problem getting my children to love reading. I’ve written about how to raise a reader in earlier posts here, here and here and I’m all for surrounding my children with books, books and more books, as well as reading to them and with them.

And on some days, I think it will be really great if these kids can take a break from the animals, the prince and princesses, the good and bad little boys and girls and the magic from the books they’ve been reading (or rather the books that are read to them) and enter into a wholly different experience.

I’m talking about being in the stories they read.

Thanks to Kid Hero Stories, my children got to enjoy a totally new reading experience during the March holidays. It was an experience complete with A LOT of laughter, and it was indeed A LOT of fun. They saw themselves in the story and laughed so hard!

Ben, Becks and Nat appeared as Ben, Becks and Nat in the Kid Hero Stories, going on adventures and doing fun things.

Like going to a birthday party…

KidHeroStories 01

Playing an egg and spoon race (which gave them ideas for games, by the way!)…

KidHeroStories 02 Fishing – and catching a smelly boot (this made everyone laughed so heartily!)…

KidHeroStories 03

And being so, so smart in the stories…

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How cool is that?

My children thoroughly enjoyed the three stories, titled The Treasure Hunt, Message in a Bottle and The Birthday Party, that were emailed to us in PDF format, which I printed and bound for the ‘storybook feel’. All I did was to allow Kid Hero Stories to grab the pictures of my smiling children from my blog, and the good folks did up the personalisation under the ‘Sibling Series’.

KidHeroStories 05

KidHeroStories 07We huddled together to read the stories together, and even acted some parts out, like shouting, “It’s a fish! Ben has caught a big shiny fish!”, which left us all in stitches at the end.

And it was a whole new level of reading for Nat, who’s now 3 and an emergent reader, pointing to letters of the alphabet and associating letters with pictures. He was most excited with the stories.

And that excitement for those personalised stories continued after storytelling time was long over.

KidHeroStories 08

Takes reading to a whole new level, and boy, am I glad the littlest is also sharing his siblings’ love for books and for reading.

This is such a brilliant idea to get children to start reading, and continue reading!

More details:

Kid Hero Stories create fun, interesting and affordable collectible stories that kids look forward to receiving and reading. The subscription service of FOUR adventure eBooks starts from USD 7.90 per month. You can also order these eBooks as gifts for friends and family. More details of the types of books and rates on their website here. Or connect with them via their FB Page or Pinterest.

***

P/S: The stories can be viewed on a laptop or iPad because they are sent as soft copies. This mother here happens to be one of those who is strict on screen time and prefers the traditional way of reading, which includes feeling paper.

Disclosure: We were given three stories by the folks at Kid Hero Stories which in turn gave us a really precious afternoon together. No monetary compensation was received. All opinions here are my own.

All this blog's PR Stuff Milestones and growing up Parenting 101 Product Reviews Reviews The Kao Kids

Oral freshness, thanks to Aquafresh (and Helicopter Mom, of course)

April 2, 2015

As a hands-on and unashamed helicopter mom, I micromanage 30 fingernails, 30 toenails and 3 sets of 20 baby teeth.

This is a job I am proud of. I never outsource the cleaning and maintenance of these body parts of my children (well, almost never) and I wouldn’t even let the Kao kids independently handle them, especially when it came to teeth.

Here’s the reason why.

Children begin teething around six months of age. Most people know these teeth as baby teeth. By the time they are 3, children have 20 baby teeth – 10 on the top and 10 on the bottom. These teeth are destined to fall out, and would some day mark the beginning of yet another milestone of growing up. And my job, as I have taken it upon myself as my children’s mother – like a mission of some sort – is to make sure that this destiny arrives to greet them as late as possible. In other words, no tooth fairy visits before 6 years old at least.

Here’s how I do it.

1. Impose a candy quota

I used to terrorise my children with horror stories of how every candy they put in their mouth can hide well around their teeth, and then plaque comes and have a heyday. Now that they are older, the stories don’t seem to work so well anymore. Or rather, the temptation of a lolly outweighs the fear of plaque attack. But because they have been rather well-trained to always ask Mom for permission, I still get some control over how much sweet stuff they ingest. My general rule-of-thumb: vitamin gummies in the morning after breakfast, something sweet if the day is going to get them outdoors and active, and none at all if we’re cooped up at home. Sugar high, no thanks.

2. Load up on the calcium

When I was younger and when I felt that my adult teeth felt a little off (like when something was strangely shaky or unsettled), I would go eat lots of cheese.  Surprisingly, that worked for me. When I became a mom, I made sure cheeses, yogurt and milk feature a lot in the kids’ diet. They love their cheeses, they love their dairies. Thank God.

3. Use age-appropriate toothpaste

Not every toothpaste is created equal; some more equal than others. I used to be quite alarmed at how disparate the prices of toothpaste can get. One tube could cost $2.50 while another in a similar size but different brand could cost $15. And then I found out that it’s all in the ingredients.

After being a micromanager of teeth for the past few years and reading up on the relevant literature and research that’s got to do with children’s teeth, this is what I follow:

0-2 NO flouride, thank you very much. The kids, when they were infants, had their teeth cleaned with tooth wipes. When they started standing at the sink at age one-half, the toothpaste had to be safe to swallow.

2-4 Flouride ok, but kid must be able to spit. Spitting is a skill to master and they had better master it first. Toothpaste must also be very gentle to teeth.

5 onwards Gentle toothpaste with flouride but if there’s more foaming action, it would be better as that helps to keep their breath fresh.

4. Change their toothbrushes regularly

This is something I make sure happens every 3-4 months. I check for frayed bristles and make sure that the toothbrush shape, size and bristles are age-appropriate. Cartoon characters are optional, but I try to get them something that gets them excited about brushing. Which means the toothbrush had to move with what was hot favourite of the day: Spiderman, Barbie, Disney Cars…

5. Let them brush all they want, and then I do it again (and sometimes my helper)

While I do teach my children how to brush their teeth and allow them to do it on their own, there’s never such a thing in the house as you brush, you go. It’s always, you brush, you stay there and wait for Mama or Aunty to come brush for you AGAIN.  Because have you seen my kids brush their teeth? It’s like done in two seconds most of the time.

***

Recently, the Kao kids got really excited about brushing and started doing it close to four times a day, after every meal.

The morning and night brush is supervised still (as I have always insisted), but something is motivating them to brush their teeth without any adult nagging or resistance.

Enter Aquafresh.

Aquafresh_Kao Kids_02

The “toothpaste with 3 stripes” has finally launched a brand new Aquafresh Kids range, catering to the oral care needs of children of different age groups  Thanks to the good folks at Aquafresh, the Kao kids received a new set of toothbrush and age-appropriate toothpaste, and quickly got to work testing them out.

I’m sure you can see their enthusiasm just by looking at those toothy grins.

Aquafresh_Kao Kids_01

Reviewer: Nat
Using: Aquafresh First Teeth baby toothpaste (3 – 24 mths) + Milk Teeth toothbrush (0-2 years)

Aquafresh_Kao Kids_03

We’ve always been using this when the kids were babies, and I see now it has a new packaging. I hear this toothpaste has been out of stock globally a while back and is now finally back on shelves. It’s still apple-banana flavour and my cheeky son tells me it’s really nice jelly to swallow.

First Teeth Baby Toothpaste old packaging (Credit: Aquafresh)

First Teeth Baby Toothpaste old packaging (Credit: Aquafresh)

Aquafresh First Teeth baby toothpaste and Milk Teeth toothbrush are specially designed by dental experts to gently care for precious first teeth – just for 0 years to 2 years children. The First Teeth baby toothpaste is a toothpaste designed by dental experts to gently care for precious baby teeth and so help permanent teeth come through healthy and strong, and provides gentle cleaning with no abrasives, artificial colours or flavours. It is also fluoride-free so it is safe to swallow.

Aquafresh_Kao Kids_04

Aquafresh_Kao Kids_05

Aquafresh_Kao Kids_06

Nat liked it for old times’ sake – I’m sure he remembers this toothpaste which he’s been using, but he is now three and after a few days of using First Teeth, he requested for something minty, like big boys should.

And can I say I absolutely love the shape of the Milk Teeth toothbrush? I know he’s 3 already and I need to graduate him soon but it is oh-so-easy to maneuver in the insides of his mouth with this.

Reviewer: Becks
Using: Aquafresh Little Teeth products (3 – 5 years)

Aquafresh_Kao Kids_07

This girl is complaining her tooth is a little shaky – which is totally making me panic (she’s not 5 yet!) – and so I am making her take her toothbrushing very seriously. I have ordered that she be off the bottle (she loves her Milo in her bottle!) and let’s hope Aquafresh can help repair some damage. Apparently, by this age, the enamel which is now thinner makes her teeth more vulnerable to decay. And if they aren’t cared for, permanent teeth may not come through healthy and strong.

Aquafresh Little Teeth products are specially designed by dental experts to encourage healthy brushing habits and protect precious first teeth – just for kids 3 years to 5 years. Aquafresh Little Teeth toothpaste is a gentle cleaning fluoride toothpaste with sugar acid protection to care for those precious first teeth and helps permanent teeth come through steadily.

Aquafresh_Kao Kids_08

Aquafresh_Kao Kids_09

Aquafresh_Kao Kids_10

She says, I like my toothbrush, it’s nice to hold and turn. My toothpaste is a little bit spicy but I can handle. 

I say, it would be nice to have some fruity flavours. Not many kids this age can take mint exploding in their mouths!

Reviewer: Ben
Using: Aquafresh My Big Teeth products (6+ years)

Aquafresh_Kao Kids_11

He’s just turned 6 and is entering into big boy zone now with primary one looming ahead and two shaky teeth, one on top and another at the bottom. Our dentist commented during our recent visit that he has really well maintained teeth, which made me beam like a proud mother while he sat on the dentist chair. I was so going to whisper that that’s the benefit he reaps from his mother micromanaging every friggin’ details of his teeth and oral hygiene since the day he had teeth, but decided to let him take the glory. After all, he always does one good first round of brushing before the adult comes to do the second.

Aquafresh My Big Teeth products are specially designed by dental experts to protect mixed adult and baby teeth. Mixed adult and first teeth also create awkward gaps which are hard to clean, creating “plaque traps.”  The child’s new adult teeth may look big and strong but the enamel on new teeth is more vulnerable to decay for several years. Aquafresh’s My Big Teeth is a toothpaste with foaming action (and sugar acid protection!) to help it get around the mouth whilst actively targeting softer enamel to keep it strong.

Aquafresh_Kao Kids_12

Aquafresh_Kao Kids_13

Aquafresh_Kao Kids_15

Aquafresh_Kao Kids_14

And it is this “yummy, minty, clean-feeling” in the words of my eldest that makes him want to use keep using his toothpaste. This boy has been finding many excuses to brush food bits away since he got acquainted with Aquafresh’s My Big Teeth toothpaste. Never seen a more enthusiastic boy when it comes to oral hygiene.

With these children’s enthusiasm in brushing and keeping teeth clean, a host of value-for-money, specially designed oral products, and a micromanager-mom, these 3 sets of teeth should remain cavity-free for a long, long time.

Smile!

Aquafresh_Kao Kids_16

And if you’d like to have a reason to smile too, hashtag #AquafreshKidsSG with a video or photo of your child brushing his/her teeth with any Aquafresh Kids products on your personal Facebook or Instagram page. 10 selected winners with the most number of LIKES (across Facebook or Instagram) will win a one year supply of Aquafresh Kids products. Contest runs from 1 March to 30 April 2015 (Terms & Conditions apply).

Final

If you have trouble getting your kids excited about toothbrushing, get your kids to check out this app by Aquafresh called Brush Time. The Aquafresh Nurdle shows kids how to brush their teeth using catchy tunes and fun-loving animations, plus rewards.

All Aquafresh products are available at leading supermarkets and pharmacy outlets. The App can be downloaded free from iTunes.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post which means that the products we received are sponsored, and my little reviewers will actually be making some money bringing you this. As our practice, we have reviewed the products in a manner as honestly as possible. All opinions here are our own.

P/S: I know the kids may have gone a little overboard with the excessive 4 times a day brushing, but they take their reviewing job very seriously. 

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Ready, Doh, Shoot! [Review of DohVinci]

November 15, 2014

I think I say it out quite loud that anyone who gives my kids Play-Doh becomes my enemy.

I’ve nothing against dough play for kids; in fact I firmly believe that they need to knead, model and shape dough to strengthen those fingers to prepare for writing. Monkey bars do the trick too, but if that isn’t accessible, it’s always easy to prepare homemade dough and get the kids to knead away. With my kids a little older now, these days we knead dough for pizza more than we do it for play.

I digress anyway. It’s packaged, commercial Play-Doh I’m talking about that annoys me greatly – they have a funky smell and stick to your clothes and shoes and furniture. They give my children that illusion that whatever they make can be eaten with the play that’s associated with it, like ice-cream and candy making. And they also leave a sticky, gunky feeling on your hands. I tell you if you’ve tried making DIY dough at home it really wouldn’t feel the same.

So boy am I glad that Hasbro has finally heard the criticisms from this fussy mother and thought of something ingenious, and on top of that, divorce it with pretend-food-play and associate it with craft.

Enter DohVinci.

DohVinci 1

Bright colours to inspire the inner artist

This is a clever product that amalgamates Play-Doh, 3D creative design and the concept of crafting which comes in deco pop tubes that fit into a styling tool similar to a squirt gun.

DohVinci 2

Ready, aim, shoot

So technically, you don’t need to handle dough with your hands and fingers (read: no funky smell, stains, feel and stickiness) and you can doodle with something safe unlike the professionals who do it with plastic.

The Kao kids were invited for a crafting session at Food for Thought at the Botanic Gardens last weekend to experience what it was like crafting with DohVinci. If you know my kids well, the word “dough” stirs up extreme emotions of excitement and exhilaration, simply because they know that it’s something that sometimes annoys me which I keep away from them. And the thought of being able to touch it, feel it and smell it at someplace else not our home makes them really eager and happy.

It’s the same feeling on my end too, if the mess is not mine to clean.

So last Saturday, they were found at a huge table squirting, squirting, squirting away. They were invited to be DohVinci Designers, and although we all know it’s all tongue-in-cheek with Da Vinci, it was quite regrettable that no one acknowledged that.

Hey, it would have been great if the kids were given some information of how diversely talented this Italian man was (painter, sculptor, architect, writer, engineer, mathematician, geologist…), and why his name was even borrowed for this product. Afterall, this great person that ever lived was described as having a “feverishly inventive imagination”. Just saying.

DohVinci 4

The organisers even gave the kids a red beret to get them into the artist mood

DohVinci 3

My DohVinci Designers

Anyway. The designers got to work, and were rather engaged.

DohVinci 5

Artists at work. Do not disturb. Squirt, squirt, squirt.

I have to say that stylus was made for an older child with muscle strength in his arms and fingers. It was almost impossible for Nat and Becks to be using it.

Nonetheless, the kids had fun changing colours and going creative designing their own Christmas trees, embellishing them with sequins, buttons and glitter. Guess who ended up being the extended hands of Little Miss, since she couldn’t be squirting the DohVinci herself.

DohVinci 6

Becks getting busy

It felt like I was frosting cupcakes, and well, it was good practice for me.

Practising swirls

Practising swirls

The little designers were presented with certificates after the session, and were left to savour that moment of pride of having designed something unique – their very own masterpiece.

DohVinci 8

Ben and his masterpiece

DohVinci 9

“I’m a DohVinci Designer!”

DohVinci is now available at Toys ‘R’ Us and all major departmental stores. Check out the DohVinci website for more details of their various products, like the vanity kit and easel set.

***

So what happens after the craft session is over? Want to know?

My kids squirt Play-Doh from the DohVinci stylus gun and play with Play-Doh using their hands.

DohVinci 10

How can Play-Doh not be touched with hands, these kids ask

DohVinci 11

And so they got busy again squirting worms and rolling eggs

There’s just no stopping them. It was too inviting.

And although we did return home with dough stuck on our clothes and shoes (sigh), I was glad the mess was not created in our home.

Disclosure: We were invited to the Designer Workshop organised by DohVinci Hasbro. No monetary compensation was received for this post. All opinions here about Play-Doh are mine, including all the remnants and bits we’ve amassed over the years from people who gave them to us. For the record, no one is my enemy yet. Friend-friend, still, k, friends?

All this blog's PR Stuff Ben Kao Fatherkao loves... Learning fun! Milestones and growing up Product Reviews

Imagining a LEGOverse

August 13, 2014

I have a LEGO-obsessed firstborn.

My five-year-old loves LEGO. He’s loved it since the days of playing with the Quadro and Duplo. He loves the smaller bricks even more now with the endless possibilities of building and rebuilding, creating and recreating.

Every morning when he wakes, he heads to his LEGO tub, pulls some bricks out along with a troop of minifigures and enters a realm of imagination that is nothing but fascinating. He makes up stories, invents characters and builds systems and machines. I have to say we’ve indeed indulged him with a little too much of a good thing by buying him close to a hundred minifig blind packs, which also means we get frequent entertainment featuring hilarious characters and story lines.

Like robots in Viking garb on surfboards and strange men in helmets wearing animal costumes. And rock stars on ice skates wearing wigs, riding dragons and flying planes.

Too funny for words, it often is.

Recently, Ben got to take home this from LEGO, which got him really excited. He’s not yet near ‘8-14’, as was the suggested age range, and figured he might need lots of help to make sense of the instructions and piecing the parts together, so he got his father (who loves LEGO too and was the one who started the Kao kids on it) to promise to be his help and guide during construction.

And to walk out of the office holding this - was awesome cool for the big LEGO fan!

And to walk out of the office holding this – was awesome cool for the big LEGO fan!

Despite being really thrilled, the boy waited very patiently for weeks for his busy father to carve time out to build the given set with him. Fatherkao promised to build the Eris Fire Eagle Flyer with him as part of their ‘Special Time’ together, and because he promised, Ben patiently waited.

So what did he do while waiting? He admired the box daily (which he proudly displayed on his desk and declared ‘Hands Off, It’s Mine’ to his siblings) and went on to create supporting storylines as part of his daily LEGO routine based on that one image he has from the box through imaginative play with his loose set of bricks and lots of role-playing with his siblings.

This boy actually knew nothing about The Legends of Chima, and the various warring animal tribes. He saw a wolf, a bear and an eagle from the picture on the box and went on make up stories of conflict and peace featuring the eternal, universal theme of good versus evil. It was quite entertaining to hear him weave stories around animals, with Wolf being the baddie on some days but the good guy on one or two occasions, and Eagle as the hero that would save others from their distress.

Last night, he finally pieced the Eris Fire Eagle Flyer with his father, following the instructions page by page, interlocking and stacking brick by brick.

Here’s looking at the construction from start to finish, from Ben’s eyes:

Yay, 'Special Time' at last!

Yay, ‘Special Time’ at last!

LEGO Building Time_6

Box’s opened, and packs are taken out and sorted first

Look at the instruction booklet and start with the building - part by part

Dada says look at the instruction booklet and let’s start building – part by part

Sort...Make space...

Ready? Sort…Make space…And go!

...And build!

I’m a Master Builder, everything’s awesome!

Click, click, click

Click, click, click!

Little hands need bigger hands for precision and sliding parts in...

I need bigger hands for precision and sliding parts in

Dada, I'll try to make as many parts on my own, says Ben

But I’ll try to make and fix as many smaller parts as I can

Is it night already: the boys needed better lighting for the finishing touches, so construction was shifted to the living room. Initially they were in the bedroom so the littlest hands could be kept away, and father and son could get time alone together

It’s night already? Better lighting is needed for the finishing touches, so we need to construct in the living room. (They were in the bedroom before this so the littlest hands could be kept away, and father and son could get time alone together.)

And let's hear it for the big boys with a collective WOW now

We’ve finished!

Built by big and little hands, my dad and I!

Built by big and little hands, my dad and I!

Post-construction, I was so glad my son didn’t declare he needed the parts glued together or displayed as a trophy. He was protective of it, yes he was, but that was because he was preparing to spend a whole lot of time “imagining everything” in Chima all by himself.

And so it began: the grunting, talking and ‘boy noises’ with that Eagle Flyer. He even roped his little brother in for the action.

Can you hear them? It’s Beeesh… Chebaaaabooom… Weeeee…. Oooooohhh…. Baaaaahh… in case you can’t figure it out.

Absorbed in LEGOverse

Absorbed in LEGOverse

I’m pretty sure I am not the only mom whose children have created an entire universe of LEGO play, making up stories, creating characters and building machines along the way. A lot of imagining goes into inventing that LEGOverse where nothing is stagnant, and even more dexterity and hand-eye coordination goes into bringing everything in that universe to life.

What I always knew was that a box of LEGO bricks would take my children into the realm of informal learning through play, and by that I’ve always only thought it to be developing their creativity and fine motor skills. What I didn’t realise (but eventually did after watching father and son build something together) was that beyond informal learning through play, a set of LEGO bricks could also promote role modelling and bonding, instill patience and encourage focus. It also taught my son to visualise and gave him a huge sense of achievement to be making something so massive from nothing.

And then invite him to play and imagine some more.

***

This post originally appeared here on https://sg.news.yahoo.com/imagining-a-legoverse-055034243.html.

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We rose, shone, and are smelling REALLY good

June 25, 2014

That Saturday was gorgeously beautiful and perfect for a picnic. The kids got up early in the morning, all excited for the Rise and Shine Breakfast Carnival at The Lawn @ Marina Bay.

This would be our second time at this huge picnic and the first in which my children were actually thrilled to be meeting mascots and all raring to go explore bouncy castles and try out carnival games. What a difference a year makes. This was them two Saturdays ago:

R&S_Carnival fun

At The Lawn (which was packed with people when we arrived at 8.30am), the kids could barely sit to eat their sandwiches of ham and cheese. They wanted to play and jump and run and chase balloons – so we were found within 15 minutes of us settling down in queues, doing game try-outs like fishing…

R&S_Fishing

Building blocks…

R&S_Building blocks

And throwing eggs…

R&S_Throwing eggs

We also checked out the Johnson’s Baby booth which launched a new product that day. It’s called Active Fresh, which has a clinically proven technology that can fight body odour, keep skin dry to prevent sweat chills and activates fresh fragrance when in contact with sweat.

JBaby Active Fresh Product Display 2

JBaby Active Fresh Product Display 1

We got our samples, had some free foot reflex fun (check out those little feet that take off whenever they see pebbles!) and then, as all present there that day would know, the picnic was cut short very unfortunately because raindrops started falling on our heads.

Foot reflex for free

God must have heard complaints about how hot the day was. ‘Fess up, if you’ve murmured while queuing! Give thanks next time, people! 

Rained out

Nonetheless, we did have a good two hours of carnival and picnic fun on that lovely Saturday morning.

***

Eh ok, so it sounded a little far fetched. At that point earlier in the post where I mentioned the ‘Active Fresh’ products by Johnson’s Baby. Yea, the part about the ground-breaking technology of being able to absorb sweat and activate fragrance.

This needs some testing, I say.

I put the samples I was given by the Johnson’s folks at the booth up for a challenge when we headed for our getaway last week. The weather was scorching and humid. And don’t get me wrong here, I would have it no other way. The fine weather and heat was great for all the fun that could be had.

Fine weather for play

And absolutely ideal for sweating buckets and smelling odoriferously potent like a used sock.

So before we headed to the Kids’ Club for some active play at the resort on the second day while we were there, I got everyone to smack on the Active Fresh powder generously on themselves to see if this thing really works.

Testing 1

Testing 2 - Copy

Testing 3

Check out my pretty tester showing you how to put on powder:

Pro tester with steps

Oh-kay, I did also realise there and then that if the technology didn’t work, we’ll all be having clumps of powder all stuck in the folds of our necks and armpits. And I would have to scrub them silly or dunk them into the swimming pool first to rid them of clumpy powder.

Testing 4

So the kids played on and and on at the club and we started perspiring profusely in the enclosed space in that hot, hot weather. These are very, very active kids, I tell you. They sweat a lot whenever we’re outdoors and engaged in physical activities. And this June holidays with the weather oh-so-fine, we’ve had ourselves a good dose of outdoor play, which is so important for the kids’ mental and physical development.

Play at Kids Club

More active play at Kids Club

After play powder check: I checked self. I checked kids. No clumps. No stickiness. And we did still smell good.

For your info, I really went back to the villa bathroom and looked into the mirror to search for remnants of powder on my armpits ok.

Amazing. No sour smell. No powder remnants. There was a lingering smell of faint fragrance.

We also put the bath gel to the test. This was a no-brainer. It smelled awesome, filled the entire bathroom with fresh fragrance (and it was a huge bathroom, by the way) and because the kids took a bubble bath that evening with it, the smell lingered throughout the night while they slept.

Bubble bath

Ok, so now I’m convinced that Johnson’s Baby Active Fresh products can do what it claims – keep my kids smelling fresher and for longer. It’s nice to know that we can all smell good after active play. I guess I won’t be needing to bring change of clothes for the kids anymore. Just slap ’em some powder, me say!

***

We can’t wait for the next Rise and Shine Breakfast Carnival to have more picnic and carnival fun, and are anticipating more new technology to make our lives better. Smelling good for now IS making life better! Thank you Rise and Shine, and Johnson & Johnson, for the fun we had on an almost perfect Saturday!

Disclosure: This post is a sponsored conversation on behalf of Rise and Shine and Johnson & Johnson. All opinions here are my own, including the risk we took to sniff powder to bring you this product review.

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Lights, magic, action! by Philips and Disney

June 13, 2014

I’ve always lamented the fact that there are no night lights that are child-friendly in the market.

By child-friendly, I mean something that is soft, not fragile, and can survive a careful kid accidentally dropping it or a careless one deliberately throwing it. By child-friendly, I mean a light that would stay cool to the touch and not have its bulb explode on us if we leave it turned on the whole night. By child-friendly, I also mean something that’s kind to little eyes with a glow that’s comforting enough, yet provides sufficient lighting so the child doesn’t end up walking into walls and doors if he needs the way to the bathroom lit.

Our night light – other than looking extremely cute – is none of these things I wish for.

Meet Bunny. Bunny’s head is hot to the touch usually after two hours; the light itself though yellow provides such a glare that the kids can hardly fall asleep (which means they end up talking and talking); and I am constantly reminding the kids that the rabbit IS NOT A TOY they can play with because the bulb inside its head can shatter any time. That plus the fact that Bunny is top heavy and often topples while being plugged to an electrical source.

Our Bunny night light

Our Bunny night light

We’ve had Bunny for some time now but I’m always on the lookout for better, more innovative night lights for the kids’ room.

I’ve been told my search is over.

Last month, something wonderful happened. Philips and Disney have teamed up to develop a range of inspiring, magical and playful lighting products to make bedtime easy and fun for the little ones. Since seeing is believing, Philips got a couple of us mom bloggers to come see for ourselves how dynamic lighting solutions can be created at their Philips and Disney Imaginative Lighting ‘Pajamas Party’ Media Event.

Look at this. I could start checking off my wish list for night lights just by being there.

PJ Party

Ok, it’s official. My search is finally over.

This is Disney magic at its best, paired perfectly and flawlessly with cutting-edge Philips technology. The entire lighting range comes with child-friendly features. And I like the child-friendly idea very much. The lights use Smart Philips LED, which means the lamps stay cool to the touch, won’t consume much electricity and the bulbs don’t have to be frequently changed due to their long lifespan. Each light is also designed such that there are no small parts or sharp edges to worry about, and little fingers can be kept safe with velcro cable binders to tidy messy cables away. Add to that, the entire range is specially designed to be held by little hands which means it’s easy to hold and use.

You get lights of every magical possibility, from projector lights that illuminate the bedroom that transform scary shadows into an imaginative wonderland…

From the movie, Cars!

From the movie, Cars!

Princess projector lights

No prizes for guessing how badly the little girl wants to have to THIS projector light (picture credit: Philips)

To these huggable pals so squishy and friendly to cuddle…

SoftPals Mickey and Minnie

SoftPals Mickey and Minnie

SoftPals from Monsters Inc

SoftPals from Monsters Inc: all SoftPals light up when shaken and turns off when you shake ’em again!

And torch lights so adorably fashioned for little hands which are ideal for travelling…

Torch lights

Jake the Pirate hero and Winnie the Pooh will light the way

And night lights that emit a gentle light which comes on with a simple wave.

Sensor night lights

Sensor night lights in five variations: Mickey, Minnie, Winnie the Pooh, Cars and Princess

I can’t remember how many times I went “I want them ALL!” on the inside that evening because I’ve been waiting for things like these to hit the stores.

The kids were thrilled, needless to say, and fiddled with everything that was there at the Pajamas Party with much glee. They were all invited to turn up in their PJs and be ready to be transported to a world of enchantment and magic through light.

Nat checking out the lights - and I didn't have to fear he would get in trouble with wires and electricity!

Nat checking out the lights – and I didn’t have to fear he would get in trouble with wires and electricity!

The Kao kids in PJ having fun

The Kao kids in PJ having fun

And it was a lovely night catching up with some moms from Singapore Mom Bloggers

And it was a lovely night catching up with some moms from Singapore Mom Bloggers

It was an amazing night indeed, coming face to face with innovation at its best, all thanks to Philips and Disney.

As if that wasn’t enough (and I was all ready to go order me some lights), Philips sent us Mr Mike Wachowski who would be taking over Bunny for night duties.

Here he comes!

Here he comes!

Let’s see how Mr Wazowski’s been faring so far.

Soft, not fragile. CHECK. Can survive kid dropping it and throwing it around. CHECK.

Nat throwing Mike

If it can survive Nat, it can survive anything

Not hot to the touch and kind to little hands. CHECK.

Perfect for little hands: It's made of silicone, and really smooth and soft to the touch, even after being lit for many hours

Perfect for little hands: It’s made of silicone, and really smooth and soft to the touch, even after being lit for many hours

Comforting glow, not glaringly bright like our Bunny friend. CHECK. Kids can fall asleep readily and quickly. CHECK.

Mr Wazowski's comforting glow

Mr Wazowski’s comforting glow

Somebody even loves holding it to sleep!

Somebody even loves holding it to sleep!

Can be used as torch to guide one’s way around, and to the bathroom. Not too bright, not too dim. CHECK.

Someone needs company to the bathroom all the time!

Someone needs company to the bathroom all the time! You can have the SoftPal charged or get it to run on batteries.

We’re loving Mr Wazowski a lot more than Bunny. I hear because of the way he’s designed, to be far superior than Bunny, that is, his presence can help children get more peaceful sleep. “Suitable and quality lighting is important. The right night light can help train or correct your child’s sleeping behaviour for better development,” says Tammy Fontana, a child sleep expert.

Mr Wazowski is going to be permanent resident in the kids’ room for a long time, and I’m planning to get Sully when he’s available at the stores. I’m hoping that Disney would soon create Boo to join the both of them because that would make a stunningly complete trio for night duty.

That, and also for the reason that each of my kids can have one night light they can call their own and go to sleep with, and when the nightmare of toilet training for night time starts, they each would have a buddy to accompany them to the bathroom!

Thank you, Philips Singapore, for inviting us to the event, and for sending Mike Wazowski our way!

The Philips and Disney lighting range is available at www.philips.com.sg/shopLED, and from June 2014 at selected departmental, and mother and childcare stores.

The Philips and Disney lights retail at the following prices:

  • Philips and Disney SoftPals: SGD72.90
  • Philips and Disney Light & Image Projectors: SGD38.90
  • Philips and Disney Night Light (Sensor): SGD24.90
  • Philips and Disney Torch Lights: SGD19.90

Disclosure: This post is a sponsored conversation on behalf of Philips Singapore. We received the Philips and Disney SoftPals for the purpose of this review, as well as the Philips and Disney Torch Light in our goodie bag at the event. All opinions here are Motherkao’s own.

All this blog's PR Stuff Milestones and growing up Motherkao loves... Nat Kao Product Reviews

One advice from the PD I won’t be following (yet)

May 28, 2014

During my last visit to the PD two weeks ago, she asked if I’m taking off Nat’s diapers already and getting him used to not wearing any at home.

She gave me the same advice for the older two kids when it was time to begin their toilet training: take off their diapers in the day when they are at home, get them used to their private parts not being covered up by a diaper, and lead them to the toilet every two to three hours to help them do a wee.

As it appears, it’s now time to begin toilet training the littlest. How time flies. With three kids so close in age, I lose track of the timing for all these milestone developments, especially for the last child. In fact, I was there at her clinic for his MMR vaccincation which was due 8 months ago.

Nat is now 26 months old, and I’m really thinking hard about how I could start toilet-training him. He’s active and up to mischief ALL THE TIME, and running around in his diaper pants since wearing it at 11 months that it’s become an extended part of him.

Little Nat in his new Drypers Drypantz which is like an extended part of him

Little Nat in his new Drypers Drypantz which is like an extended part of him

That plus his mother is way too lazy to be doing this toilet-training thing for the third time. Haven’t I already told the world that I’m so happy to have finally found a good brand of diapers that fits the untrained ones snugly in the butt, hold pee (and poo) in well, which gives me such a peace of mind?

And even more so now with the new improved Drypers keeping him so comfortable throughout the day, I’m not just about to take his Drypers Drypantz off and fret about having to clean up puddles of pee when I can let him roam and run with this extended piece of him.

No, no, I’m so NOT about to do that. Haven’t you heard my recent complaint about this boy?

[Sung to the tune of ‘Three Blind Mice’]

One active Nat, one active Nat, see how he runs, see how he runs;

He’s gonna run after Ben and Becks, climb monkey bars and have fun to the max;

He’s not ready to pee at the urinal yet;

This is one active Nat. 

This is Nat, who take every opportunity to climb, run and get in trouble

This is Nat, who takes every opportunity to climb, run and get in trouble

I’m telling you, once a mother finds a diaper that fits her child snugly, provides many hours of dryness, and gives him the skin comfort he needs, she’s not about to follow anybody’s advice when it comes to taking off his diaper and leading him to the trainer urinal to do a wee, like what, 10 times a day?

We’ve gone for a couple of hours straight recently when we were maid-less and I was out with all three kids and found the new Drypantz more amazing than it used to be. The garter waistband was firm enough to hold so much of Nat’s pee and didn’t drop at all, although the boy soon realized that it became difficult to run around (hurhurhur – so cute, that diaper butt!).

Plus, the material the diaper-pants is made of is soooooo soft (smooth and cloth-like cover on the outside, as well as absorbent within, with aloe vera, chamomile, olive extracts and Vitamin E), I hardly need to worry about diaper rash or the diaper giving him a scratchy wedgie.

So, no, Dr PD. When I smiled at you sheepishly, it was really because I was extremely reluctant to do as you suggested.

Toilet-training can wait a while more, I suppose. This active kid’s happy to be in his new improved Drypers Drypantz anyway.

Nat and his Drypantz packs

Happy Nat and his new improved Drypers Drypantz

This post is brought to you by Drypers. We’ve been regular users of Drypers Drypantz and Wee Wee Dry since 2012. We’re recommending this because we really like what we’re using and have not been disappointed once by the premium quality we’ve experienced. While Drypers Drypantz can deliver many hours of lasting comfort which my incidental experiment of being out with the kids and not having the time to change Nat’s diaper has proven, I do not recommend that you keep diapers on a kid for that long! Experts say a child’s diapers need to be changed 2 to 3 hours regularly.

~~~

Make the change to ultimate comfort with the newly improved Drypers Wee Wee Dry Newborn, Drypers Wee Wee Dry and Drypers Drypantz! Drypers is a partner in every parent’s parenting journey, helping you magnify little moments of magic, for life.

For the month of June 2014, with every purchase of 2 packs of Drypers Wee Wee Dry or Drypers Drypantz, Motherkao’s readers can receive a $10 FairPrice voucher when they send in a scanned or snapped photo of the receipt (as proof of purchase), along with personal particulars (name, address, contact no., child’s name and DOB) to sg.contest@sca.com with subject title [Motherkao].

Promotion not applicable to Drypers Drypantz M-4pcs, L-3pcs, XL-3pcs, XXL-3pcs. The promotion of the $10 voucher is valid from 1 June – 30 June 2014.

Disclosure: This post is part of a series of sponsored conversations on behalf of Drypers. All opinions here are my own.

All this blog's PR Stuff Motherkao loves... Product Reviews Reviews The Kao Kids Uncategorized

Pretty, sticky and lasting [Stickerkid review]

May 22, 2014

The kids’ personalised stickers which I got from those push cart stalls in the mall have been failing me. These days, we can’t even recognise what’s being printed on the labels. Thankfully, they are at the age where they are indicating their preferences more strongly than ever, so we know what belongs to who by colour and design preferences, like their water bottles. The confusion begins when things are identical, like school bags, uniforms and colour pencils.

The label that failed me, which also means a waste of money

The label that failed me, which also means a waste of money

And it’s as if Stickerkid picked up my distress signal, and offered to send some personalised labels my way for the Kao kids.

Stickerkid is an online store that designs and produces high quality Swiss-made personalised labels from stickers for belongings and identification bracelets to photo name labels. The company was founded in 2004 and has printed millions of premium quality labels for thousands of parents and their children all over the world. We were really blessed to be given a fully sponsored code to customise a one-line personalised label for our belongings, as well as iron-ons for all the three kids.

It didn’t take us long to go online and choose the colours and fonts that we wanted, and the kids each had a say of their labels’ font colour and background colour.

The kids took turns to sit in front of my lap top to personalise their sticker labels

The kids took turns to sit in front of my lap top to personalise their sticker labels

And when they arrived in the mail two weeks ago, they were thrilled! Immediately, they started labelling their favourite things…

60 small stickers for each Kao kid from Stickerkid!

60 small stickers for each Kao kid from Stickerkid!

"Hands off, these are mine!": I am echoing the sentiments of these kids here

“Hands off, these are mine!”: I am echoing the sentiments of these kids here

And I took it upon myself to label their identical looking pencils to prevent more fights from breaking out…

Identical things like these MUST be labelled in this house so that a war doesn't break out

Identical things like these MUST be labelled in this house so that a war doesn’t break out

As well as rid their water bottles of their previous useless labels and putting on new ones.

The kids chose their favourite colours for their labels which incidentally are the same colours of their water bottles!

The kids chose their favourite colours for their labels which incidentally are the same colours as their water bottles!

Clearly, the biggest difference between those roadside-pushcart-pseudo-Disney name labels and those from Stickerkid is the fact that the quality of the stickers really IS better. I hear these stickers survive the microwave, the dishwasher, water, sun and sand. I’ve waited two weeks to write this review to see if the labels would fade and drop off from the kids’ water bottles that go through a good deal of scrubbing once a day, and I am pleased to say that they haven’t! I also stuck them on fabric (the kids’ school bags) and the labels have stayed there since the day I pasted them on.

I stuck the labels on the kids' school bag made of tough fabric and the adhesive in each label is amazingly strong

I stuck the labels on the kids’ school bag made of tough fabric and the adhesive in each label is amazingly strong

And although their iron-on labels for clothes may not be the prettiest, they apparently are made to last for a really long time – as long as at least 45 washings in 60ºC. With these labels ironed on, I no longer have to spend time squinting at faded size tags at the back of their PE t-shirts (Becks is S and Ben is M) when I get them ready for school. Any time saved is good time saved, I say.

What a relief to have these !

What a relief to have these !

I’m really happy to have Stickerkids help personalise the kids’ stuff. Their labels are extremely affordable and value for money, and saves me time and prevents fights. These little stickers are really something.

Thank you, Stickerkid, for sending these goodies our way and making the Kao kids really happy with these pretty things!

***

If you’d like to check out Stickerkid and see for yourself how good their labels are, you can get a 10% discount by quoting the discount code MotherKao2014 when you check out! This promotion for Motherkao readers is valid till 30 June 2014.

Disclosure: Motherkao received no monetary compensation for this review. The labels (3 sets of small stickers and 3 sets of iron-ons) were sponsored, courtesy of Stickerkids. All opinions here are my own. 


				
					
				
		
				
												
	
All this blog's PR Stuff Going Out! Learning fun! Product Reviews Reviews The Kao Kids

Washi-ful, AMAZING fun with 3M Scotch® Expressions Tapes

March 17, 2014

I’ve stayed away – and kept the kids away – from washi-tapes for a long time. You know, those cute Japanese masking tapes typically made from natural fibres from the bark of trees that are native to Japan, yea those. They are super expensive, and if you get one, you sort of have to get all in every design, pattern and colour, cos’ they are all too pretty not to have. Besides, being OCD kind of makes me hesitate getting the kids those tapes because I’d much prefer not to have my furniture and walls embellished, thank you very much.

So since the kids are so extremely deprived of crafting fun, thanks to their not-so-crafty-mother, when an opportunity to craft comes along, I usually don’t say no so the kids can experience making a mess and getting all inspired and creative in an environment that’s conducive and fun.

Just not in our house, is what I’m saying. Hurhurhur.

Two Saturdays ago, we were invited by 3M’s ‘Make Amazing with 3M™ Scotch® Expression Tapes’ Tea Party to put the fun in functional using their bright and colourful adhesive tapes.

At the Tea Party, there was a display of all things washified - from stationery and chairs to shoes!

At the Tea Party, there was a display of all things washified – from stationery and chairs to costume jewellery!

To celebrate the launch of 3M’s Scotch® Expression Tapes, we gathered at Food for Thought @8Q for a no-holds-barred, anything-goes crafting session. We were asked to bring to life a simple IKEA children’s chair with as many Expression Tapes as we wished and turn it into a Rocket Launcher that would take us to worlds beyond.

We were given a demo by the trainers from Artz Graine, a leading art studio that creates a platform for art cultivation

We were given a demo by the trainers from Artz Graine, a leading art studio that creates a platform for art cultivation

With more than 55 colours and patterns from Magic™, Washi and Masking Tapes, we were truly spoilt for choice!

Tapes Galore!

Tapes Galore!

We started washifying the Rocket cardboard with all the tapes that Ben and Becks had “shopped” for…

Getting ready!

Getting ready!

Decorating the rocket with Expressions Tapes!

Decorating the rocket with Expressions Tapes!

And when that proved to be a little too challenging for the both of them (because of the corners and odd shaped bits), Ben and Becks went wild making their washi statements on the chair…

Sticking tapes all over the chair, tis' fun!

Sticking tapes all over the chair, tis’ fun!

Leaving me (who else!) to continue working on the rocket …

All by myself: the OCD Mom did it

All by myself: the OCD Mom did it. I washified NEATLY.

All by myself: the OCD Mom did this too

All by myself: the OCD Mom did this too

It’s so easy to use these tapes. They are also easily removed or repositioned and yet sticks securely to most surfaces. And the best part about these tapes is – and check this out – they are 100% TEARABLE (read: no need for scissors!).

Even Nat could help, and didn’t hesitate to join his siblings.

Nat at work

Nat at work

These versatile tapes are available in various textures and sizes in a rainbow of solid colours, prints and patterns to mix and match in almost every possible way. Just look at our final creation, our very own dazzling Launcher Throne:

3M Scotch Make Amazing_Rocket throne

Ta Daa!

The kids had a really great time playing with tape and discovering how to brighten their world with them. I’m guessing they will be off to upcycle all the ho-hums at home to add some pop to them with all the Expression Tapes 3M got us to take home (and I will try my best not to be OCD) and I am going to be seeing lots of tape around for a long time.

Thank you, 3M, for an afternoon of fun, food and craft. And yes, plus the chair and all the tapes you allowed us to shop for and bring back!

Food, fun and tapes!

Food, fun and tapes!

More details:
  • 3M captures the spark of new ideas and transforms them into thousands of ingenious products. Scotch® Expressions Magic™, Washi and Masking Tapes are designed to stick on a wide variety of surfaces for both permanent and temporary applications and can be removed cleanly.
  • These tapes retail at SGD$3.90 to $9.90 and are available at selected Popular Bookstores and other leading retailers.
  • Get a headstart by visiting MyActivityRoom.com and have fun with various creative projects using 3M Scotch® Expression Tapes!

Disclosure: We were invited to 3M’s ‘Make Amazing with 3M™ Scotch® Expression Tapes’ Tea Party and received many rolls of tape (used and unused) to craft with. No monetary compensation was received for this post and all opinions here are our own.

All this blog's PR Stuff Becks Kao Motherkao loves... Nat Kao Product Reviews Reviews The Kao Kids

Review: Worry-free Luxury by Original Sprout

March 10, 2014

I like brands with an ethical philosophy, especially those that pledge to be environmentally friendly and are free from sulphates and parabens. I am big on labels, and scrutinise them whenever I buy anything to make sure that I get those which are free from harmful chemicals, and I am extra, extra particular whenever it comes to buying things for the kids.

So it did feel like Original Sprout picked up my thoughts by telepathy, because they sent these to my doorstep:

Original Sprout_Product Range

Original Sprout is a Californian-based family brand that’s already gotten a large following by Hollywood celebrity moms, and is recently setting foot in Singapore with their top 5 products. I’m not so won over by the Hollywood part as much as I am by the fact that the brand’s ethical philosophy is one of promoting an environmentally-friendly lifestyle by using ingredients that:

  • are free from synthetic hormone disruptor
  • are free from oestrogen disrupting ingredients
  • are free from sulphate
  • are paraben-free
  • do not use Lavender and Tea Tree Oils, Phthalates, Clove or Musk
  • are 100% vegan; no soy, gluten, honey, peanut or dairy
  • use parfum with only natural extracts
  • are environmentally responsible and bio-degradable
  • are eco-friendly and not tested on animals

I didn’t know about cosmetics with lavender and tea tree oil causing estrogen enhancing effects until now. I mean, what’s not to love about the smell of lavender! But I guess it’s now not so good for the boys cos’ studies have shown some correlation between cosmetics with lavender and boys developing breasts (read more about it here). Eww. Glad that Original Sprout also took care of that.

I don’t know about you but whenever I use products that have sulphates, parabens and a long list of chemicals, I am always extra careful not to use too much. Which is why I’d rather read a long list of what a product DOES NOT have any time. It’s so apt that Original Sprout calls themselves “Worry free luxury” because the more a product tells me what it doesn’t contain, the less worry I have, really.

Original Sprout_Babywash_NatSo last weekend, I passed the kids the Original Sprout’s Hair & Body Babywash (354ml, SGD$25.00) and told them to go ahead and make their own day.

And they did. Liberally.

After her bath, I asked Becks how she liked the Babywash and she said that it smelled nice and “feels soft”. It was, indeed. The last I checked, the Babywash did leave her skin super clean and moisturised.

After her bath, Becks proceeded to slather the Scrumptious Baby Cream (118ml, SGD$16.90), mimicking the way I would slap on my moisturiser and hand cream after my bath. The multi-benefit cream is infused with natural Zinc for Environmental Protection and organic Rosemary for sensitive skin. It’s non-greasy and is a good protective barrier that keeps skin soft and velvety smooth.

Original Sprout_Baby Cream

Becks liked it so much she ran after her little brother to slather some on him.

Original Sprout_Baby Cream2

Becks also tried the Miracle Detangler (118ml, SGD$16.90) that’s been created to make combing hair effortless and painless with organic ingredients like Rosemary, Calendula, Cranberry and Vegetable Glycerin. This girl is blessed with silky, straight hair with close to zero frizzies on a bad hair day, but that certainly didn’t stop her from spritzing the Miracle Detangler on her hair to make it even smoother.

Original Sprout_Detangler

The kids like what they’re using with Original Sprout, and I like what I’m smelling after their bath. It’s always good to be supporting socially responsible businesses and what more those that promise to provide safe and ethical professional solutions to our children’s skin and haircare needs.

Original Sprout is now available at 48 selection Watsons outlets islandwide. For more information, visit Original Sprout’s website here.

Disclosure: We were given Original Sprout products to review. No monetary compensation was received and all opinions here are our own.