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Getting ’em organised and all ready for a new school year (ft. #ikeahacks)

December 25, 2017

[Sponsored – this post is IKEA-inspired]

When you have three kids and a really small living space, you got to make the space work very hard for you.

So when we moved into our new flat a few years ago, the bulk of the renovation cost went to carpentry. We fixed up a platform and bunker bed with six huge compartments under for the Kao kids’ toys, and then custom made their wardrobes and study desks.

The kids share one room in our current living space. At least from now till our next move.

With all custom-made things, it has been very difficult to get proper storage solutions to get organised. We can only admire but not buy organisers or beautiful trays like these:

From IKEA: SKUBB Box with compartments

RAGGISAR stackable tray from IKEA

So we very much end up with internal chaos like this…

Ben’s personal drawer – obviously he keeps photos he treasures safe in here, and Kidzos, pouches and knick knacks

this…

Becks’ drawer: of mozzie patches, card collections, hairbands and wigs and all sorts of bags and hair-ties

and this…

Nat’s drawer: the most chaotic of all. Clearly he loves his masks (Spidey & Bumblebee), inflatable globe,s tickers, sketch book, pencil case and toy spider too much as to keep them away from his siblings

 

My kids have an amazing to hoard, stuff and shove. I don’t know what’s in all their personal drawers but I don’t think the things stuffed all the way in there get any attention at all.

Drawers transformation

I can’t readily find a quick fix to get these drawers organised neatly because they are custom made to fit an existing wall space, but I am so glad I found these from IKEA such that I can put them in good use:

VARIERA Box: 24x17cm

VARIERA Box: 10x12cm

GESSAN Box: 10x10x10cm

GODMORGON Box with led: Set of 5

GLIS Box with lid: 34x21cm

I got a couple of these VARIERA boxes in the above two sizes in colours red, black and green, as well as a couple of GESSAN boxes plus 1 set of GODMORGON.

I also got one GLIS box to see if anyone would opt to use this to try to work their drawer space around.

The instructions for the kids were simple: empty your drawers, take as many of these boxes as they can fit into your drawers and fit them all in as neatly as you can. Then fill the boxes by deciding what you can fit in and what you wish to keep or throw.

This drawer-organisation project took half a day. And this was what the kids came up with:

I like it that these boxes from IKEA lets the kids still keep their drawer personalised but gives them a clear idea about how much space they have to keep their things organised.

Ben’s drawer transformed

Becks’ drawer transformed (love it that now her photoframe that has a picture of me & her plus Cinderella is now in sight!)

Nat’s drawer transformed

~~~

Study desk area transformation

On our last shopping trip at IKEA, Fatherkao was fascinated by this metallic knife rack:

GRUNDTAL Magnetic Knife Rack

I love my husband for the fact that he sees what I cannot see, does what I cannot do, and makes magic happen. This man singlehandedly removed all the random hooks and decals the kids pasted on their study area wall, wall-puttied and painted it to a smooth finish, then installed two of these magnetic racks (who says you can only use it for knives, LOL) – and at eye level somemore! – for the kids so that they could magnetically stick their notes and notices (every so often the school gives us notices which our fridge has no more space for) more systematically and neatly.

He even got the RIMFORSA tablet stands so the kids can use them for their iPads, spelling lists and reference books whenever they sit down at the desk.

I can’t believe this was all conceptualised and done within half a day by their very competent father. I love that their study space has gotten neater as compared to using blutack to stick on notes in the past.

Love it even more that the first reminder that Ben stuck on this new metallic rack was a reality check: school starts soon and it’s time to pack his bag. LOL.

Speaking of bags, they have also been organised neatly, thanks to these which we found at IKEA:

These FIRRA Boxes (we used them without the lids) are great for keeping the kids’ school bags and can be rolled out with their wheels. The plan is to have the kids put the bags in these boxes after school, and roll them out when it’s homework time, tuition time or pack-your-bag-for-the-next-day time.

 

~~~

In the spirit of getting organised, the kids also helped to think of ways for room improvement, and this was what they came up with, with their LEGO DUPLO blocks:

Love it that they have been inspired to look for solutions all around!

Truly, small things can make a big difference when it comes to getting organised, and I think the Kao kids are ready to start the year right, now that the mess they had once lived with is now put completely away.

~~~

Disclosure: This is the second of three in a series of collaborative work with IKEA. IKEA sponsored all the hacks we’ve used in this post. All ideas here are our own. #IKEASG#ad#sponsored#incollaborationwith #IKEA

Family life as we know it Milestones and growing up The Kao Kids

Parenting at 8, 7 and 5 – Year-end reflections of a mother

December 24, 2017

The last time I reflected on a milestone of parenting was when the Kao kids were at age 5, 3-half and 2. I wrote about the exasperation and the growing pains and that new season of mothering where I had to be attuned to needs like potty training, mealtime routines, sleep training and weaning and the fact that I became conscious that I was the role model and chief influencer for three very young minds who needed to be taught values and guided in every way.

Well, all those are over, and yet again a new season of mothering is here.

These days, there is no baby nursing, no potty training to do, and no bums to clean. My kids can feed themselves, help with household chores, write me love notes and paint me beautiful pictures. They can also sing, dance and clown around for me – very much the reverse about three years ago where I was the one singing and dancing and clowning around to make them laugh and tickle them silly.

These days too, the eight-year-old dishes out advice on more occasions than not, telling me to sit up straight, eat my meals on time and come back early before bedtime.

These days, my seven-year-old can very much hold in her emotions, resist a tantrum and be taken in by reason and logic. She has a reservoir of emotions but unlike what she was like at 3-half with the crazy tantrums and hair-tearing, she draws, writes notes and paints them out.

These days, the baby in the family is baby no more. He is tall, dashing, super cheeky and full of humor. He can buddy up with bro anytime, and become best friends with his sister the next minute, and is an awesome team player who binds the siblings together. He helps Mama when her hands are full, he holds lift doors and orders his own food.

Oh gosh, how much they have grown.

Kao kids at Snow City, November 2017

What I hear these days isn’t the sound of whining, crying or babbling. What I hear these days at home are long conversations, silly banters and lots and lots of opinions and feelings flowing freely.

As I look back on these years my kids have grown and have become so close and dependent on one another, I am often glad for those years of “hardship” and the frazzled-ness I suffered doing these kids back to back without taking a break. My break is happening now, and while there are still needs to fulfill, I can now do a host of so many things, from pursuing entrepreneurship and taking nights out to learning a new language and getting couple- and me-time for my sanity.

And as I move forward to this new season where the needs are vastly different from a couple of years ago, I must remember to do well in these two things:

Find time to get to know each child one-to-one

Every pocket of time spent with each child has become so precious in having one-to-one conversations with each of them. The drive home with Ben on Wednesday night for English class, the bus ride with Nat every morning to school, the pedicure sessions with Becks once a month, running errands with whichever kid that wants to join me… — those times let me chit chat with them and get to know them better. They tell me what’s on their mind and things that are for my ears only.

More pockets of one-to-one time next year, we must find.

Find time to just watch and listen to them

I really sometimes have a lot to do. I’ll be honest: I can’t say no to screen time all the time myself. But I’d always make it a point to watch them for a while. Or listen in to some parts of their conversations. Just today, the three of them lay on my bed and sang Uptown Funk three times. It’s amazing how they have memorised the lyrics just by listening and I never knew that they loved this song to bits. I did whip out the phone to take a photo and some vids. But I watched them. And laughed at them. It was funny. I also love listening in to their squabbles and wait out how they would negotiate their way around each other’s demands and expectations.

And I need to do more watching and listening. Much much more in the days to come.

Bring it on 2018, I can’t get to know these kids more, and I can’t wait to relish this motherhood season.

 

All this blog's PR Stuff Everyday fun! Food, glorious food! Happy days The Kao Kids

This year’s Thanksgiving Dinner by the Kao kids’ (ft. kids-friendly recipes)

November 28, 2017

[Sponsored – this post is IKEA-inspired]

Now that the kids are older, I have every plan to work them hard. I mean, why not? They are bursting with so much creativity, so much energy, and so many ideas it would be such a waste if I don’t tap on all these while they are still willing.

So I told the kids that in November, they’ll have to cook up a Thanksgiving dinner for the family.

I was surprised there was absolutely no protest and zero whining. In fact, they were excited. They started talking about what they could do – should we make sunny side ups, Mama? shall we bake a big cake? maybe we can make some pasta? hmm, how about some cookies? ok,  let’s make chicken wings!

I had to source and tweak some recipes in order for a few things to happen: one, the family gets a complete meal; and two, the meal prep and work is something that an eight-year-old, a seven-year-old and a five-year-old can manage on his/her own individually.

I needed more tools in the kitchen to assist their meal prep, and so also we headed to IKEA to get some shopping done.

This was what we did. This was Thanksgiving dinner, prepped by the Kao Kids. #iamaproudmama

~~~

First to enter the kitchen last Saturday afternoon (which we dedicated as our very own Kao family’s Thanksgiving Day) was Becks. She loves to bake. She love treats. And she is all ready to make us an orange pound cake.

Chef Becks is pictured here in her best festive garb, the VINTER 2017 children’s apron, complete with a chef’s hat. Fits her to a tee, and gets her in the mood for baking. I think this girl takes after me – we both love to bake!

Before she started work, I laid out the ingredients and utensils she might need and did a run through of the steps and what she would be doing with what (equipment / utensils).  Becks is an auditory learner, and she functions better being told verbally what to expect. I followed this really easy recipe here from Del’s Cooking Twist and ran through the steps with her, all while pointing to the equipment and tools she would use:

First, the eggs and sugar that Mama’s prepared and measured go into the KitchenAid; second, the flour and baking powder will be sifted with the IDEALISK Flour Sifter; third, the butter needs to be melted in the saucepan; fourth, the orange needs to be juiced with the SPRITTA Citrus Squeezer,and lastly, the batter needs to mixed well and poured into the moulds on the baking tray to be popped into the oven.

Step 1: Eggs and sugar gets beaten well

Step 2: Sifting the flour & baking powder (actually just clicking away!) with IDEALISK

Steps 3 & 4: While the butter is slowly melting in the saucepan, use SPRITTA to squeeze juice out of one large orange

Step 5: Mix the batter well and pour into baking moulds – we used the BAKGLAD baking moulds to give us 2 cute foxes & 2 bears

Of course, Mama hovered around the kitchen as her assistant and preheated the oven, handled all electrical appliances (I helped with the melted butter, for sure!) and doubled up as sous chef when she needed me to. But these 5 steps were more than doable for this seven-year-old, and Becks was more than able to rise to the occasion in making four mini orange pound cakes for our Thanksgiving dinner.

In fact, [spoiler alert], they turned out so well, that a friend tried (she came by while we had dinner and sampled some) and wanted to order from Chef Becks so she could give away as gifts for Christmas.

~~~

Next to enter the kitchen was Ben, all ready to handle some protein.

I modified this recipe by Ina Garten, by tweaking some of the things to our liking (no thyme, 1 lemon instead of 4) and making it less daunting for Ben. Actually, to prep this dish, in my opinion was the easiest to do, just ’cause the chicken spends more time in the oven than anything else. But preparing this dish takes the most guts to do – as it requires massaging the cavity and every bit of the chicken – and so it was tasked to the oldest kid among my three.

You don’t see his disgusted look here, but he was basically squealing for the first minute of touching the chicken.

How cool is my eight-year-old chef in his TOPPKLOCKA apron and chef hat, touching protein for the first time in his life

After he became familiar with how cold and slimy the skin of the chicken and cavity felt, he was all ready to stuff and rub ’em all in. In went the garlic cloves and quartered lemon, some butter, salt and pepper.

And then the skin was rubbed with olive oil, salt and pepper before it was covered with streaky bacon rashers. He worked atop the KONCIS stainless steel roasting tin with grill rack, which contained the mess efficiently and let him pop the chicken straight into the preheated 220°C oven.

~~~

So there needed to be carbs for the dinner, and I decided to task the youngest for this. Doesn’t sound very easy for the youngest to be preparing the mains, but hey, the solution was pretty straightfoward. We would be skipping the pasta and mashed potatoes, and having all-day breakfast for dinner instead.

‘Cause this was the EASIEST recipe I could find for a five-year-old to do. And I thought: why not?

French toast for dinner, it is.

With this really easy recipe, you’ll pretty much get pretty carbs on a plate in three steps, and this was as easy as it gets for a fiver.

All you really need is a large stainless bowl and a whisk and uber large pie dish (the BLANDA BLANK 36-cm stainless steel bowl, VARDAGEN balloon whisk and VARDAGEN 32-cm pie dish are ideal for this task), some eggs, white bread, honey, salt and single cream and you’d churn out the staple in no time.

Of course, Nat had to be heavily guided by my verbal cues. He listened and worked as I instructed: whisk together the single cream, eggs, warmed honey (so it’s more loose liquid), salt, and then pour mixture into the pie dish.

When we were ready to eat, he dipped each slice of bread into the mixture in the pie dish and let the bread soak for 30 seconds on each side. As he removed each slice onto a rack and worked with more bread, I fired up a non-stick pan with butter and cooked each slice till golden brown.

Then we’d slot the slices of french toast into the oven for another 5 minutes for that perfect crunchy bite.

~~~

Would you please have a look at the finished products after about 5 hours of labour in the kitchen? The adults helped with the plating but look at these gorgeous browns, and bursts of colours!

Serving ware really do dress up the dish: the roasted chicken sits on a VARDAGEN oven dish, the french toasts were plated with raspberries, blueberries, strawberries drizzled with maple syrup on matt-glazed DINERA plates and the cakes rest on the festive VINTER 2017 side plates.

Thanksgiving dinner by kids, for the whole family.

We couldn’t wait to tuck in.

This Thanksgiving, our hearts and bellies were full.

On this cosy dining table for our family of five, I had food prepared by my kids for the first time ever. This Thanksgiving meal wasn’t just tasty. Every bite of what I ate melted every ounce of fiber in my heart.

And I gave thanks for that.

Disclosure: This is our first of three in a series of collaborative work with IKEA. IKEA sponsored all the bakeware, cookware, utensils and tools mentioned in this post. All ideas and creativity are our own. #IKEASG#ad#sponsored#incollaborationwith

All this blog's PR Stuff Product Reviews The Kao Kids

Gentleness and goodness in a bottle [Review of Alobaby]

August 10, 2017

We’ve been taking something along with us for a while now, every time we head outdoors.

It’s easy to use (just spray!), comes completely DEET-free, and protects our skin from the sun (at SPF 15). It repels insects, is made from natural ingredients and is additive-, synthetic perfume- and colouring-FREE. It is also specifically created for delicate skin (that of a baby’s).

It’s a new brand on the block called ALOBABY.

And for sensitive skin like mine, and my kids’, we are so glad that a product so, so pure like this has finally been created. I was spraying it like crazy that weekend sitting around watching my kids swim. It was also subsequently on hiss mode covering my kids during their tennis practices and weekend pool fun times. My pet peeve has always been that most insect repellents and sunscreens give us an icki-ness I can’t stand, and usually if we want many things like hydration, protection from mozzie bites and prevention from sunburns, we have to slather a slew of separate products like how we marinate meat before we bbq them.

And because the Alobaby Outdoor Spray is so pure and natural, it really doesn’t matter how often we use it and for what we use it, we just ANYHOW spray also can  – it feels refreshing and is extremely effective.

They also have an extensive range of products from moisturising care and baby bottom cream to massaging oil and UV lotions.

There’s comfort and safety in natural ingredients, and it really doesn’t matter if my babies aren’t so anymore – products like these give me a peace of mind even then, for sure!

Good things must share, and we’re doing a GIVEAWAY, yay!

Alobaby is giving away 2 sets of the products of their UV & Outdoor Mist (retailing at SGD35) and Outdoor Spray (retailing at SGD25) to 2 Motherkao readers.

Just launch the Rafflecopter app here for a chance to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway ends 16 August 2017!

Disclosure: We share only what we love, and we’re loving our complimentary Outdoor Spray from Alobaby. All opinions here are our own and no monetary compensation was received for this post.

 

 

All this blog's PR Stuff Becks Kao Ben Kao Reviews

Making it personal this Teacher’s Day with Bright Star Kids

August 4, 2017

As a teacher, on that one very special day I am celebrated, thanked and honoured, I always loved the gifts that had a personal touch. Red pens are nice, chocolates are nice and flowers are definitely welcome but the students that prepared gifts with a little more thought – like a picture of me taken in secret (yes, I have had that – those sneaky people took pics of me in my most dramatic), or something with my name on it (like a personalised card or mug) – warmed my heart a tad more on Teacher’s Day.

Would so totally be nice if I got something like that for Teacher’s Day (source)

I confess: I haven’t been thinking like a teacher when it comes to gifts to buy for my children’s teachers for Teacher’s Day.

We have been giving chocolates and red pens.

So terrible, and lazy, I know.

I do tell my kids to make personalised cards but that really is about it.

This year, I resolve to be a little more thoughtful. The older two are in primary school now, and we have had the privilege of having two very caring form teachers in our kids’ school life. Ben has the same form teacher and Chinese teacher for two years now, because most P1 teachers follow their classes up to P2, and they have been awesome in nagging encouraging him with their positive affirming words to display exemplary conduct and demonstrate focus in his endeavours. Thank God for MORE people who would nag guide him like this.

Becks had a rough start to school mainly because we’ve discovered that she might have some learning difficulties that require remediation and intervention (I’ll share more in another post when I am ready), and her form teacher has been the most supportive and kindest person anyone can be to a lost 7-year-old who’s still transitioning from preschool to primary school. The local education system punishes late bloomers harshly (and I have no qualms saying this as an educator and mother of 3 who’s been born and bred in this system herself) and her teacher’s nurturing ways are a gentle reprieve from the cruel realities of KPIs and academic outcomes.

I digress. Point is: I’d better spend more thought to show my gratitude to my kids’ teachers this Teacher’s Day.

And so I did with Bright Star Kids. They do the most gorgeous personalised gifts from lunch bags and rompers to stickers and mugs, and I so had to ink my kids’ teachers’ names on these canvas totes bags that come with an inspiring quote to encourage them every day. Teachers carry a lot of things to class, from marked worksheets and resource guides to whiteboard markers and water bottles and these tote bags make a practical gift for any school teacher. Besides, if it’s forgotten and left at some corner of the school, it’ll be picked up and returned easily because the teacher’s name is on the bag.

Thoughtful enough, for sure!

And here you have it, my little girl parading with the bags customised for her teachers. Ben says he wouldn’t do anything cheesy like that, it’s already embarrassing enough I am making him bring the bags to school next month. Hurhurhur. My wimpy kid and his half grown up mind.

One for the form teacher

One for the Mother Tongue teacher

Imagining how her teacher will look when she gets it

Yea, probably a happier face would be more like it, girl!

More details:

Shop for customised gifts for your kids’s teachers here at Bright Star Kids (still got time!) and use the discount code ‘TEACHER’ to  check out. You get 30% off with that code for a $30 minimum spend on all gifts. Pretty good deal and impetus to start shopping and making your gifts more personal, this Teacher’s Day!

Disclosure: Bright Star Kids reached out to us probably already guessing what a lazy mom I have been and offered to sponsor my kids’ Teacher’s Day gifts for the purpose of this review. All opinions here on what I would love to get as a teacher are my own. But I think I speak for most teachers lah.

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

The sadness when you are done having babies

August 3, 2017

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

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

An overwhelming sense of sadness.

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s exhilarating and exasperating at the same time.

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

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

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

And this…

And these…

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

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

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

Goodbye, babies. Hello, big little people.

Happy days Holidays! Motherkao loves... The Kao Kids

Dunfermline, Scotland – and 5 things to savour with kids when you’re there

July 14, 2017

Cold and rainy Dunfermline, Kingdom of Fife, Scotland

Cold and rainy Dunfermline, Kingdom of Fife, Scotland

One huge reason why we decided to head to the UK with the entire family in tow this summer was because we had family in Scotland, and we wanted the kids to reunite with their granduncle and grandaunt again. They come to visit often, but we’ve never visited them in the UK, and so Fatherkao and I thought it would be an adventure to take the kids all the way to the Kingdom of Fife.

Sounds really like heading back to medieval times.

Fife, still commonly known as the Kingdom of Fife, is a historical county of Scotland. Fife is divided into 3 districts: Dunfermline, Kirkcaldy and North-east Fife. We flew to London first, then took a Virgin East Coast train for about 5 hours to Dunfermline, where we would stay with family for a week. That became our base to explore Perth, Stirling, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Much little is known about Dunfermline, except that it’s the hometown of the great Mr Andrew Carnegie, one of the greatest philanthropists our world has ever known. There’s certainly more to the town and former Royal Burgh called Dunfermline, and here it is, 5 awesome things to do with kids (Motherkao’s version) in Dunfermline, as experienced by us.

If you ever head there; you’re welcome.

1.  Have steak bakes at Greggs

Arguably you could say that you can find this awesome bakery all throughout the UK and you don’t really need to go to Dunfermline for it. Tis’ true that you can get your sandwich and pasties and score a £2 steak bake and coffee lunch easily anywhere anyway. But I say, it’s tastier here in Dunfermline for the reason that it is waaaayyyy colder here with summer hitting 10-14°C and having your piping hot pasty, pizza, calzone, bacon roll or bake dripping with steaming bubbling goodness for breakfast or lunch is one of the best things we ever did in Dunfermline.

Awesome hot piping bakes

And for sure, it was also tastier because we savoured hot bakes on a cold rainy summer day with family.

2. Spend a day at the Dunfermline Carnegie Library and Galleries

This spectacular £12.4million place was recently built in Dunfermline and houses a museum, exhibition galleries, local history Reading Room, new children’s library and a mezzanine café with stunning views over the landscaped garden to Dunfermline Abbey and the Heritage Quarter and features the world’s first Carnegie Library. You could easily spend a day or days here FOR FREE. We walked through the galleries again and again, learning the wonderfully rich history of the former Royal Burgh of Dunfermline, about Robert the Bruce and the history involving England and Scotland, their kings and their queens – stuff that my Literature and History classes were made of.

Museum fun: navigating our way around

The famous people of Dunfermline

Which I thoroughly loved.  I studied English Literature and History for most parts of my growing years wearing school uniform, and museums excite me.

 

Role playing was fun – costumes of kings and queens

 

View of the Dunfermline Abbey

Rainy day at the Galleries

Anyway.

The kids were made to read, listen, watch and just appreciate the immersion of being at the Library and Galleries. And since it was a rainy day that day and we didn’t fancy walking around in the rain and in the cold, we spent a good time just soaking up the quaint little town this way.

Enjoying comics from the comics shelves

Role play time

Hanging out with the Gruffalo

The Very Hungry Caterpillar read and reread

Enjoying the Children’s Section of plentiful books!

I must say the library is one of the most impressive I have seen – and that the civic mindedness everyone has towards the care of books, and the consideration of others around was truly worthy of respect.

3. No sweat at Pittencrieff Park

I have never known what it’s like to play with abandonment in midsummer day till I watched my three kids in their child-likeness embrace the swings and slides at Pittencrieff Park.

And what a joy it was capturing these smiling faces.

The sun’s shining down on us but we ain’t feeling it

So many times they asked for Dada to give them a push and they got bolder and bolder on the swings

Fun times!

Of swings and merry-go-rounds in 14°C weather – we could go on and on since the sun doesn’t set till 10.30pm in summer!

Back at home, I can’t even last beyond an hour in the park or the playground. The humidity, the mozzies and the relentless heat would usually end up killing most of the fun. And the kids would end up sweaty, grumpy and very quickly quarrelsome.

Not here in this park. Not in this weather. Not on this holiday.

We could even take time to roll on grass, lie on grass and smell the flowers.

Big thanks to Mr Andrew Carnegie who many decades ago made this park possible for the people of Dunfermline. Granduncle told us the story of Junior Carnegie not being allowed in parks as a little boy because places as fun as these were only for the rich, and that he swore he would make it big enough to make parks free for everybody.

So here we are.

4. Hello again, Dennis the Menace

I grew up a Xennial and lived a largely analogue childhood where I would watch Dennis the Menace on tv (no cable last time) and then read lots of Beano Annuals. There was also Heckle and Jeckle, and Looney Tunes and He-man and Flintstones on tv for most part of my preschool years and so you can imagine it was such a blast to the past for me stepping into Brewers Fayre at Crooked Glen at Fife Leisure Park that has a Beano-inspired indoor playground.

Having lots of fun at Brewers Fayre at Crooked Glen, Fife Leisure Park

The kids were, of course, just happy to have indoor playground time. And the husband and I were just happy to be revisiting childhood once more having dessert and sipping coffee/wine.

5. Getting on the train and enjoying the view

The view of the countryside and of coastal England from London to Edinburgh and then to Dunfermline was a breathtaking one. Gives a whole new meaning to counting sheep because plenty of sheep was what we saw. Including oxen and horses, quaint cottages and pavements lined with flowers blooming in full glory.

Train rides are made of these

…Lots of snacking

… Lots of drawing and doodling

…Chattering and reading and bonding

Beautiful views are soul food.

The beautiful sights to take in

The town of Dunfermline was beautiful and rustic and I loved it every time we got on to the car or train because the view outside the window never looked so good. So good that it recharges and refreshes the soul.

Town views

Love these houses

Dunfermline at 10.30pm

Soul food is good “food” for kids, especially city kids who are inaundated with screen time, worksheets, and schedules of tuition, swimming, enrichment and all the et ceteras. They need to learn to look out of the window, count sheep and do nothing, all while imagining and inventing a world in their imagination on road trips and train rides.

~~~

We’re missing summertime Scotland like crazy now, back in humid and hot Singapore, and wishing big time for some more wanderlust dust to be sprinkled upon us once more.

Goodbye, Dunfermline

All this blog's PR Stuff Becks Kao Holidays! Product Reviews The Kao Kids

Worry-free luxury for a holiday – Review of Original Sprout (again)

July 6, 2017

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When you tell me that a brand believes in an ethical philosophy of promoting an environmentally-friendly lifestyle, I am definitely one happy user. I love sustainable brands and products.

And I want my children to love them and make supporting them part of their lifestyle when they start making consumer decisions as they get older.

Which is why while on our UK holiday last month, the kids got to enjoy their baths and the best skincare with Original Sprout. We were acquainted with the brand when the Kao kids were younger (we fell in love with the Miracle Detangler, and have been using it ever since) and now it was only befitting that I would lug the Original Sprout Natural Shampoo, Deep Conditioner, Miracle Detangler, Scrumptious Baby Cream and Hair & Body Babywash all the way to London and Scotland where the weather was colder, the air was drier and worry-free luxury in baths (and post bath, for skincare) was what the entire family could benefit greatly from while away from home.

Enjoying daily bubble baths with the Babywash in the tubs in our AirBnB apartment

Enjoying daily bubble baths with the Babywash in the tub in our AirBnB apartment

Becks using the Miracle Detangler religiously every morning and after every bath

Becks using the Miracle Detangler religiously every morning and after every bath

For effortless combing

For effortless combing

Applying to dry skin - our skin wasn't too used to the harsher water and colder weather, especially when we were in Scotland

Applying to dry skin – our skin wasn’t too used to the harsher water and colder weather, especially when we were in Scotland

I love it that Original Sprout was the brainchild of a mom who loved her daughter so much she had to create a product that could effortlessly detangle her daughter’s hair, and that it’s a brand that believes in utilising ingredients that are free from synthetic hormone disruptor, oestrogen disrupting ingredients, sulphate and parabens.

I have to say if you have a daughter with long hair or thick hair or tough curls, this Detangler (definitely Original Sprout’s bestseller) works instant magic. I never needed to go through another day where I have to hear Becks scream ‘ouch’ whenever I comb her hair, or when she tries to work through the hair on her own, even though she already has pretty fine hair to begin with since this Miracle Detangler came into our lives.

Happy to share that Original Sprout is back, and is now available at Watsons, Guardian, Kiddy Palace, Motherswork and 1010 Mothers & Child Essentials. Alternatively, you can purchase Original Sprout online on at www.originalsprout.com.sg.

Happy to have lugged them all in our luggage last holiday and pampered ourselves with worry-free luxury.

~~~

Disclosure: We are users of Original Sprout since we did a review for the brand when it first launched in SG back in March 2014. Original Sprout sponsored the products we packed in our luggage and all opinions here are our own. Unless we love it, we won’t share it. We’ve loved it since the day we used their products!

All this blog's PR Stuff Product Reviews The Kao Kids

Add surprise to your shopping – Lazada GSS Sale: 3 more days to go!

June 3, 2017

I’ve been a mother for the last 8 years which also means one thing: I’ve been shopping online mostly for the past 8 years too. It’s amazing, the amount of browsing and “screen” shopping I do while tucking the kids in bed.

I’m super thrilled to learn that Lazada Singapore is having one of our biggest sales of the year in June and to celebrate the annual Great Singapore Sale, they’ll be bringing back the “Surprise Boxes” which received overwhelming response during their Birthday Sale earlier in March.

I got my firsthand experience receiving the Lazada x Beautiful Me Mum & Bubs Box lately, and by golly.

It was a surprise, alright; it was a huge one!

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Each surprise box consists of a range of exciting products from brands such as Maybelline, Logitech, Laneige, Blackmores, Philips Avent, Nescafe Dolce Gusto, Sennheiser and Nature Republic, just to name a few. Each box is customised to who you are and your choice of preferred lifestyle, so to speak – are you a health and beauty junkie? a gaming couch potato? a techie? a parent with young bubs? – and features a specific category of products.

No surprises here, what my choice of category was.

And my little reviewers picked and chose what they like from the nine items we received from the “Surprise Box”.  Love it how they have a mind of their own now, and are helping me to partially reveal what you’ll get in a Lazada x Beautiful Mums & Bub Box.

Aveeno Baby Lightly Scented Natural Oat Extract Wash & Shampoo

So the little girl loves anything that would prettify her. She picked the Aveeno Baby Wash & Shampoo that’s soap-free, tear-free, paraben-free and allergy-tested. She lathered it on her hair and skin for a gentle wash and came out smelling fresh and fragrant, like any girl who loves a good bath and hair wash would.

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Loved it that a brand like this cares for sensitive skin. First time hearing of Aveeno Baby, though definitely not the last if I can be ordering it from Lazada.

Blackmores Kids Fruity Fishies

Fish oil is something I can never get my kids to eat. They say they hate the aftertaste if they burped.

The packaging with the cute fishy face and the capsules in the bottle looking like cherry tomatoes managed to convince Nat to take it on as its reviewer.

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Well, he was a little apprehensive at first, when I told him something’s gonna burst in his mouth, and had to calm his own nervousness with his fidget spinner (hurhurhur). But as soon as the burstable capsule released some orange-raspberry flavour, he was all smiles and said it was yummy. Yay!

Studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids are essential for healthy development in children but too many kids these days don’t eat enough fish to get sufficient omega-3s from their diet (tell me about it – fish is expensive here ok). One burstable capsule contains 500mg of  concentrated omega-3 triglycerides-fish oil, and is naturally-flavoured and tooth-friendly,

Happy to be giving one to every kid since it’s passed the test of taste with the youngest!

Bioglan Kids Smart Vita Gummies

I make the kids eat elderberry supplements often but I never knew this was available in the market as a gummy. Black elderberry is an excellent immunity booster and the kids have been taking them in chewable tablet form every time I sense a cough and cold coming.

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This was much loved by everyone – who wouldn’t like chewy gummies that would pack a punch of zinc, vitamin C and elderberry juice?

The kids wouldn’t be saying no, for sure, and they loved it that the Bioglan elderberry gummies were found in the “Surprise Box”.

~~~

With participation from so many awesome brands, there’s bound to be a “Surprise Box” tailored for everyone. We hear that this GSS, there’ll be flash deals every 2 hours and items going for up to 90% off. If you’re a mum with bubs like me, you can go straight for the Mum & Bubs box, and go find out what else awaits you besides what we’ve revealed. I’m sure the health & beauty or gaming or home & living boxes wouldn’t disappoint too in terms of surprises, and you can definitely look forward to shopping with a twist this GSS from 6 – 8 June 2017 for your surprise boxes!

Gonna be upfront here too, to suggest that you use my affiliate link so I can get some good stuff from Lazada too, heh. And if you’d like more discounts, check out with this voucher code*: GSSLIZ18  so you can get more for less!

Happy shopping, this GSS!

~~~

More details:

During the GSS, each Lazada Surprise Box consists of items worth a minimum of $100 and goes for $29 nett. The voucher code GSS LIZ18 is applicable from 6th to 8th June for new customers, 18% off capped at $8 with no minimum spend required.

Disclosure: We’ve been invited onboard the Lazada Affiliate Programme, and received this box courtesy from Lazada Singapore. No monetary compensation was received and all reviews done by the Kao kids are feature our own honest opinions. 

 

Going Out! Happy days Holidays! The Kao Kids

London numbers

June 2, 2017

1 hour delay due to inclement weather.

13.5 hours on a full flight.

1 hour to clear customs.

15 minutes from the airport to Paddington Station.

 

Waiting for the Heathrow Express

Waiting for the Heathrow Express

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Onboard the Heathrow Express

Onboard the Heathrow Express

Paddington!

Paddington!

6 hours hanging out with 2 grumpy, tired kids, 1 especially prone to hissy fits.

7 hours behind in local time and severely jetlagged.

2 chirpy birds up and awake, tinkering around our AirBnB apartment at 4 in the morning, local time.

1 superbly supportive and strong spouse, tirelessly making things happen, like breakfast at 5am with only 5 hours of sleep.

1 sensible child (which makes me feel very strongly that from age 8 onwards is the age to bring any child on a long trip) who has been channel grazing across 4 British home shopping channels all morning. Hurhurhur.

~~~

We are here in London, in awesome midsummer weather where the sun rises at 5am and sets at 9pm and where the Kao kids can get their fix of rolling hills and vast expanse of spaciousness and rich culture.

Where it’s also the much needed time I need to reconnect with the family and be fully present.

Hopefully, we will be returning with 5 hearts full.