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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.

Ben Kao Milestones and growing up Reviews

Going the Ortho-K way (Part 2)

May 6, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Service at its best!

Service at its best!

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

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


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

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

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

Just compare this face…

Ben in his half degree

Ben in his half degree

With this contented one…

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Ben_OrthoKPart2 (3) - Copy - Copy

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


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

Ben Kao Milestones and growing up Reviews

Going the Ortho-K way (Part I)

April 5, 2017

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

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

Which sucked. Big time.

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

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

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

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

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

This article calls it ‘braces for the eyes‘.

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

Sounds like something I want Ben to go through.

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


Eye examination to assess for clarity of sight

Eye examination to assess for clarity of sight

Getting his power determined

Getting his power determined

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

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

Ben_OrthoK_AeroV (3) - Copy

Measuring his cornea

Checking the health of his cornea

Checking the health of his cornea

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

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

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

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

Getting good light wherever – Review of 3M’s LED P1610 Polarizing Task Light

March 11, 2017

Do you have this problem? You get the kids a study table and then they draw and do their work everywhere else EXCEPT at their study table.

And then you go on and custom make a pretty study area with some personalisation here and there for each kid and they continue do their everything – drawing, reading, writing – everywhere EXCEPT there.

And the study area you’ve painstakingly designed and built, with all the good lighting and proper seating, becomes just another place to dump all kinds of things.

True story.

I’ve given up on asking my kids to sit at their desks to do their work. Over the years it has been just too daunting to nag them to go there – sit down – do work. 

So I stopped, and I invited them to consider different parts of the home to do their work or to read a book. It could be at the dining table, on the floor, on the beanbag and even on the master bed, which they love to hang out at.

But I always had one serious problem: lighting.

Whenever they are everywhere, it always feels like they are casting shadows over what they are looking at.

I need a solution and I am so glad to have found it.

Enter 3M’s latest colour-change polarizing lamp, the LED P1610 Polarizing Task Light.

LED P1610 Polarizing Task Light - Copy

It’s everything I need for my kids to make everywhere a work and reading space – it’s cord is long enough to bring from where it’s plugged to where they are and it’s fully adjustable and rotational.

Best of all, the LED P1610 Polarizing Task Light is adaptable enough to function in any space at any time of the day (not just at a desk, but when the kid is on the floor, seated on the sofa, wherever!) and allows you to customize the light colour via a touch control. Offering 5 colour selections – cool white to warm white – users can adjust the colour of the lamp according to the time of day, or their mood levels.

Which means you can switch the colour of the lamp to a ‘Cool White’ in the mornings for increased alertness and change it to a ‘Warm White’ when winding down for the day.

In addition, the LED P1610 Polarizing Task Light is also an extremely versatile lighting solution. Using the same touch control, you can perform a myriad of tasks under sufficient light intensity.

More intense or detailed activities such as studying or knitting often require higher lux levels, while activities like watching the television require lower light levels. The LED P1610 Polarizing Task Light has 5 levels to choose from, with the highest providing focused illumination at 1000 lux and the lowest providing a softer glow of 200 lux.

Guide to the the LED P1610 Polarizing Task Light explained - all it takes is experimenting with two touch control buttons and one ON/OFF button to find your comfort level

Guide to the the LED P1610 Polarizing Task Light explained – all it takes is experimenting with two touch control buttons and one ON/OFF button to find your comfort level

Ben reading with warm white at 400 lux in the evening, with no room lights on - bright and comfortable enough!

Ben reading with warm white at 400 lux in the evening, with no room lights on – bright and comfortable enough!

To top off it’s versatility, the LED P1610 Polarizing Task Light is also fitted with 3M’s Polarizing Filter Technology, which consists of a 3M proprietary optical film to reduce glare by up to 80%. Such rays occur when harmful light bounces off surfaces and creates reflective light (glare), a by-product when light bounces off a glossy surface material which actually is a main cause of strain on the eyes. While most other lamps allow normal light rays comprising both comfortable and harmful light to enter, the 3M polarizing optical film – which is what 3M is really great for! – only filters comfortable light through; at the same time, it converts the harmful rays into optimal lighting which means that only optimal light reaches the eyes.

Which is great for the kids as there is minimal immediate eye strain for them and they can work more productively and safely when the light is used, improving their psychological health as well.

Becks doing her homework at night - it's great that the light cuts out the glare and there's no shadow cast on her paper

Becks doing her homework at night – it’s great that the light cuts out the glare and there’s no shadow cast on her paper

LED P1610 Polarizing Task Light_04 - Copy

The LED P1610 Polarizing Task Light eliminates multiple shadow with its 3M Air-Guide Technology as well

The LED P1610 Polarizing Task Light also gives free angle control. I use it to clean the kids' ears at night too!

The LED P1610 Polarizing Task Light also gives free angle control. I use it to clean the kids’ ears at night too!

By providing effective illumination, constant task work is made more comfortable and better in the long run for protecting their eyes.

It’s amazing that 3M constantly upgrades its products to allow users to achieve optimal experience, and taps on its patented technology to enhance the well-being of its users. We’re certainly beneficiaries of good technology, and it’s great that as a mom, I’ve finally found the lighting solution for my kids who love to do their constant work and reading everywhere except their study table.

It’s now ‘Go there – sit down – do work – WITH the Polarizing Light, kids!’ and when that instruction is followed, it really doesn’t matter if they are found at the study table or not.



More details: 

The LED P1610 Polarizing Task Light retails at SGD289 (w GST), and is available in two colors – Pure White and Solid Black, at all Popular bookstores and selected Best Denki and Challenger outlets.

A good investment that goes a long way, in my opinion!

Disclosure: The Kao Kids received the LED P1610 Polarizing Task Light from 3M for the purpose of this review. No monetary compensation was received and all opinions are our own. If you’re hard and fast about kids sitting right at a table, this light has a diameter of 16 cm and uses only 7.5W. Make space for it, and it will be a worthwhile investment! 

All this blog's PR Stuff Ben Kao Going Out! Nat Kao

For learning and the love for wildlife – Safari Zoo Run 2017

February 27, 2017

This has got to be the most meaningful Zoo Run yet.

To run for wildlife conservation, and to be educated along the way (literally) – what a new twist this adds to participating in a run.

Last Saturday, the boys and I, together with their father, participated in the annual Safari Zoo Run 2017. We took part in the fun and non-competitive race – the 2.5km Family Dash – and rooted for Team Canola, with a beautiful manatee named Canola as our team leader. Hurhurhur.

SafariZooRun_KaoKids_03 - Copy

SafariZooRun_KaoKids_01 - Copy

SafariZooRun_KaoKids_02 - Copy

But what was amazing was the fact that this year’s race took on a larger than life conservation effort that involved education about 4 endangered / threatened species.

Imagine being encouraged by cute animals – aka various “team leaders” – along your race route to stop for a photo and spread their message.

SafariZooRun_KaoKids_04 - Copy

And because I had inquisitive kids, I had to educate them along the way. With help from Google of course. Explaining to them why manatees are a threatened species, why elephants are endangered, why orang utans are facing extinction, and why even the hornbills have now made it to the list.

Here were my shoutouts for Team Chawang, Team Ah Meng and Team Sunny:

And of course, for our team leader – yipeety, Ms Manatee!

Now that is how we kill two birds with one stone – join a race and get that movement fix, and participate in conservation efforts while at that.

Thank you, Wildlife Reserves Singapore, and Safari Zoo Run 2017, for having us, and educating us. Looking forward to your continued conservation efforts in the next zoo run, for sure!

SafariZooRun_KaoKids_05 - Copy


Ben Kao Milestones and growing up

The reluctant specky boy

January 22, 2017

Both Ben and I were super bummed over the weekend.

By this:

BenKao_Eyecheckreport2017 (1)

BenKao_Eyecheckreport2017 (2)


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

Just like what my mom did to me.

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

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

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

And he was really disappointed too.

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

But why 6/18????

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

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

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

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

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

BenKao_Clipons - Copy

Yes, this NERDY.


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

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

November 2, 2016

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

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


Losing his spelling list

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

Me: Then go ask your teacher for another one.

Ben: I can’t! She’ll scold me!

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

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

Having a plan

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

Ben: No. I don’t have the list.

Me: So what is your plan?

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

Me: Great idea.

At the 1st Parent-Teacher Conference

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

Me: ???

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

Me: Is his partner a girl?

Teacher: Yes.

Me: -_-

Why did you copy?

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

Ben: I didn’t.

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

Ben: Huh. That was my plan!

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

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

Me: -_-


No handphone, public phone can?

Ben: Mom, can I have a handphone?

Me: No.

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

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

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

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

Ben: -_-


Canteen Fun, I

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

Ben: Hmm. Uhmm. I did.

Me: What?

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

Me: -_-

Canteen Fun, II

Me: Did you do anything naughty today?

Ben: Uhm, yes!

Me: What is it?

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

Me: Oh my.

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

Me: -_-


Girls are our buddies, I

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

Me: Who’s your buddy?

Ben: I forgot her name.

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

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

Me: -_-

Girls are our buddies, II

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

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

Me: ?

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

Me: You’re banned from playing?

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

Me: -_-

Girls are our buddies, III

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

Me: Tell me.

Ben: We trick the girls!

Me: How?

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

Me: -_-


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

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



Ben Kao I can't categorise such entries Thunderstorm days


September 15, 2016

Part of the deal of raising boys is that you need to prepare your heart for fractures, falls and fights. Like that time when my husband came back from the playground with the kids and looked me in the eye, told me to breathe and prepare to go to the A&E because Nat fell and fractured his arm. Or like two nights ago when my husband declared that we would have to go to the Children’s Emergency with Ben.

On Tuesday afternoon, I received a phone call while at work and it was Ben crying on the line. He usually does not pull the crybaby number on me unless he’s ill and uncomfortable and he had shared with me that he had knocked his head against a pillar during recess. He said a boy dashed past him so quickly he didn’t even realise, and the next time he knew, he’s hit his head. While on the school bus, he felt a headache coming and was in discomfort.

I told the helper to give him some pain relief. He could barely eat his lunch and had to climb into bed to have a nap.

When I came home, I found him squirming in pain due to a headache that won’t go away, and a fever. He also threw up his dinner, and looked more lethargic than usual. I was going to monitor him for the night but Fatherkao decided that we should get him assessed by the doctor for any head injury right away.

So we headed to the NUH Children’s Emergency where he got a thorough check up and was diagnosed with a mild concussion.


So apparently, my eldest’s gotten his head concussed, alright. Just by walking to the canteen during recess time.

I’m a little flummoxed here – tell me, like how the heck did another child manage to give my son a concussion by dashing past him and scraping his shoulder?

Who’s this child? Is he big sized? Is he taller, stronger, fatter? What is he? Did you see his name? How would you not know if a child is coming towards you? – were the questions I fired Ben.

Why didn’t you stiffen your body to anticipate the impact? – was the question Fatherkao asked him.

I DIDN’T SEE HIM COMING AT ALL! – was the concussed child’s reply.

Unbelievable. I’m having a real headache here just trying to figure out how this could happen to a child walking in the canteen.

Being observed at NUH

Being observed at NUH

But I didn’t write this to share my bewilderment but some handy tips on how to monitor a concussed child. It’s crucial to note what to do and I am glad for tips from a nurse friend and a very detailed doctor-in-charge (coincidentally, Dr Kao!!!)

You’re welcome.

Well, first of all, the first 6 hours, as the doctor tells us, is the most crucial. If a child vomits more than 3 times and has a headache that gets more intense by the hour, admit him straightaway. And if he fell from a height (for more than a metre and like in all other dangerous situations), that’s like an absolute no-brainer (pardon the pun) – go straight to the ER for that. For Ben, his injury was sustained while he was standing up, so the risk is slightly lower than someone who falls from a height.

Second, remove all forms of stimulation from the child who’s experiencing a headache (which include lights and sounds from radio, TV, etc) and try to keep him in a dim and dark place as much as possible. The injury will cause great discomfort, and minimising these will help the child calm down and recover from the concussion faster.

This was Ben at the ER during observation, not wanting any light and sound

This was Ben at the ER during observation, not wanting any light and sound

Lastly, monitor injured child for the next 72 hours and provide pain relief for as often as possible. After Ben was observed in the ER for 2 hours and had anti-vomiting meds and Paracetamol administered, he was discharged. The doctor said he saw colour come back to his face and that we should just monitor him for the next few days. He was given 3 days MC and advised to refrain from contact sports.

My concussed boy slept for most of his first 48 hours since the injury, and I’m glad to report he is feeling less tired and a little better today. I also think that all the prayers and thoughts sent his way helped greatly, plus Aroma Life, an essential oil blend from Young Living which I used to massage his head.

Thank you, Jesus. 

I don’t know how much more my heart can take with my boys growing up so quickly, and moving around, and being active so much, and I am probably going to scream NO if anyone comes to me requesting to play rugby.

My head’s pretty traumatised already from this one.

Ben Kao I can't categorise such entries

I Swear

March 10, 2016

I didn’t think I would see this day so soon but I did.

It’s only Term 1 Week 10 of the first year of formal schooling and at Primary One, my son has officially picked up a few of those swear words which I would never want to hear come out from his mouth.

And since this blog is a family-friendly blog, I can only say that my world came crashing down when I found out my son’s learned some filthy words that rhyme with bell and luck.

Actually, I was rather relieved he didn’t say them; I found them written as speech bubbles as part of a comic creation (phew). Ever since he’s started school, he’s begin to like comics, particularly the Plants vs. Zombies series (I have never heard of it at all), and he’s also been hearing all sorts of stuff from boys on the school bus (the ones older than him, for sure).

My turn to swear now.

Dammit, school bus.


To be honest, I didn’t think that this was going to affect me so hard. I thought I’d be that kind of cool mom who would say, ‘Hey son, don’t use those words ok? They just make you look uncool instead of cool, so just be the gentleman that you are, ok?’ 

But instead I broke down. I blamed myself for going back to full-time-crazy-entrepreneurship-hours and not being able to ferry my kids to and from school and it’s all my fault for making him take the school bus.  I just couldn’t stop sobbing in front of my son who probably had no idea how serious it was to use those words since the Primary 6 boys use it like punctuation every single day and why writing them down as part of what a skeleton pirate comic drawing would say is any reason why his mother should cry.

Oh gosh, I was one ball of a mess that evening.

And so after all that shock I got, Ben hugged me, pat me on the head and said he was sorry, and before he could say more, I broke down again and in between sobs reminded him that he was my champion, my sensible boy, my gentleman and he should never in any way think it’s cool to swear like an older kid.

Deep down, I was reminding myself to let go and trust God because we have been present parents to raise him – and I hope we are doing a fine job at that despite our shortcomings.

And can I also say I am super glad for a very supportive husband and a very present and involved father who believes in talking things through and hearing our children out. He’s that kind of person who would always listen and not jump, while I am quite the opposite.

To me, it was like the end of the world. To him, it’s normal and part of growing up. And taking the school bus.

Still, it was a big deal that’s left a mark on a page of my mothering history that day. I swear that if my son ever swears again, I might really go bonkers. Please come by then and comfort me and tell me it’s ok.

Ben Kao Getting all sentimental now Milestones and growing up


February 29, 2016

This post essentially marks my firstborn turning 7.


All five letters of it. All 7 years of it. All 2, 555 days of it.

This was the baby that started me on my journey to motherhood. He came to rock my world, and boy, did he rock it hard and shake it well.  I became acquainted with all things mum, thanks to him, from babywearing and mastitis to classical music and puree-ing food. Because of him, I could apply all the wisdom gleaned from all the mistakes made for #2 and #3. I learned how to trim nails, scrutinise the colour and smell of poo and administer medicine (which required lots of skill through a syringe, by the way). I also mastered the art of tiptoeing all around the house, dancing and clowning around and reading labels on every single thing I wish to buy from the stores. I learned how to handle mum guilt, studied how to apply reality discipline and read copiously on all things parenting. Thanks to this boy, I charged full steam ahead like I’ve been given a new lease of life in my sluggish twenties, and wore the title “MOTHER” like a badge of honour.

BenKao at One

Ben, oh, Ben. How much you have taught me. And how much I have learned because of you. All these seven years.

And every day I learn and grow, as your mother, and as a person. They say motherhood brings out the best and worst in you. It is true. I saw what I could do – in every sense of the word – good and bad, and learned above all else to manage myself in order to mother you.

BenKao at One_Kiddy Ride

Birthdays are always the toughest for me. While I sing you the ‘Happy Birthday’ song, I am always choking on the inside. Look at you, you’re a big boy now. And whilst the thought of you growing tall and strong and leaving me someday as you become independent flashes through my mind, I reminisce the days when you toddled, grinned and laughed.

How mixed my feelings are, every single year on this day.

Happy birthday, Son. You made me Mum on this day and I am proud of single minute of it.

Ben turns7_01

Ben turns7_02