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Running to live great

June 11, 2014

I don’t run.

Not even to catch the bus. I usually wave my hands frantically and hope the bus driver notices me.  When I was in school, I never ran at cross country meets. And just so you know, I’ve never succeeded in passing my 2.4.

I’ve got friends who take part in races and marathons, and while I am in awe of them for finishing 21-km- and 42-km-runs, at the back of my mind I’m thinking that I have better things to do. Like vacuum the house, scrub the toilet and teach my children. Won’t that all work out a sweat as well?

When it comes to exercise, I am the most sedentary person you can ever meet.

But being sedentary has its price to pay. You feel lethargic and unfit all the time. You’ve got no outlet to vent your stress and all you end up doing is lashing out at people around you and screaming in their faces. And if you’re sedentary, busy with full-time motherhood and not watching what you eat, you’d end up face to face with a doctor who looks at you with great astonishment in his eyes.

At your age, you shouldn’t be having cholesterol this high, he tells you.

Cholesterol Level

This. This was my medical report last year.

You ought to start some serious exercising, he adds.

And I did. I tried. I tried swimming with the kids and running in circles round our void deck. I tried playing games on Xbox Kinect that involved vigorous movements.

I still feel horrible, unfit, easily exhausted and toxic.

So when the folks behind the Great Eastern Women’s Run (GEWR) 2014 approached me to join their ‘Run To Live Great’ Programme as their “influencer” to encourage more moms like me to stay fit and healthy, I decided this was the perfect opportunity for me to start somewhere. Actually, it was also decided because my husband kept on saying I need to go run and get some stress out my system, and a friend who runs at least one race a month has kindly agreed to buddy me for this.

At the Event Launch on Saturday @ 313 Somerset: Between me and my buddy, we have 6 kids!

At the Event Launch on Saturday @ 313 Somerset: Between me and my buddy, we have 6 kids!

Clowning around the photo booth!

My running buddy and me: Clowning around the photo booth!

It took a lot from me to say yes. A lot from me to put on those running shoes. A lot from me to finish those 3 kilometres last Sunday as part of the GEWR 3km-Run-Around-Town Event Launch. You’re looking at someone whose last run was 15 years ago on the school track and whose last strenuous thing she did was pushing a baby out.

But I did it.

Yes! I ran with all these lovely ladies on Sunday morning along Orchard Road! (Photo credit: GEWR 2014)

Yes! I ran with all these lovely ladies on Sunday morning along Orchard Road! Photo credit: Great Eastern Women’s Run 2014

So we stopped at the traffic light crossing and posed for a picture! (Spot Super Tired Me!)

So we stopped at the traffic light crossing and posed for a picture! (Spot Super Tired Me!) Photo credit: Great Eastern Women’s Run 2014


So here I am, standing on the other side, and saying this to all you sedentary moms out there: “It’s not easy but it can be done!” Just look at super-unfit-high-cholesterol-me.

We can all take small steps to keep fit. Wanna join me to do so for the Great Eastern Women’s Run 2014? It’s in November and we still have time. We can all work towards a healthier us together!

More details:


  • Asia’s largest all-women run returns, underlining Great Eastern’s continued commitment to helping women live well and stay healthy. This year’s run sees the introduction of a new programme, #RuntoLiveGreat, to encourage non-runners to take that first step towards healthier and better living. The full-fledged programme will challenge 50 pairs of women to step forth and commit themselves to a healthier lifestyle by attending various training sessions, fringe activities and eventually complete a run of any race distance on event day.


  • To participate, simply need to submit a photo of yourself and your running partner, telling the organisers what Live Great means to you and your reasons for participating in the #RuntoLiveGreat Programme together. In return, each of the participants will receive a complimentary #RuntoLiveGreat kit worth up to S$350, comprising an adidas workout T-shirt, a pair of New Balance running shoes, a Polar Loop activity tracker and tailored exercise programme including complimentary all-access to three pre-assigned Great Eastern Women’s Run fringe activities.


  • This year, the Run will flag off and end at The Float@Marina Bay on Sunday, 9 November 2014. The Great Eastern Women’s Run will feature three race distances – 5km Live Great! Fun Run, 10km and 21.1. For more details on race categories, early bird discounts and promotions, and how to register, visit .

Happy days The real supermom

What’s your bragging right?

May 10, 2014

Are you a mother? If you are, you’ve definitely earned your right to brag. To celebrate motherhood this Mother’s Day, I’m featuring some of the most awesome mothers I know who’s got every entitlement to boast about the person they’ve become and the things they have accomplished ever since becoming moms.

And because it’s Mother’s Day, let’s give it up for these wonderful women who tirelessly labour to love their children and who’s taken on this challenging role of nurturing relationships within their families… *APPLAUSE PLEASE!*


1. Adeline Oon – blogs at The Accidental Mom Bloggermother of  two, aged 14 and 12

“I used to be rather meek before I had children, you wouldn’t have possibly known that I can amplify my voice ten times more when I lost sight of my kids at the mall, when they were much younger.”

2.  Joey Wong – blogs at Joey Craftworkz and mother of two kids, aged 4 and 1

“I used to be timid and shy in crowded places and hardly spoke out loud. After I became a mom, my skin ‘thickened’ so much more and I’m not embarrassed when the kids cry out loud. I am also able to nurse publicly with a nursing cover inside train.”

3. Mabel Lee – blogs at Amazingly Still and mother of two kids, aged 3 years and 17 months

“I used to be very dependent on external help, but certain things and people can be very unreliable. So when push came to shove, I realized I can do just about anything, as long as I want to. My motto ever since I became a mother is ‘Cannot also must can!’ Even when it means surviving on 1-2 hours of sleep (should it be called naps instead?) or on instant food daily in the earlier stages of motherhood.

Oh, and… I didn’t know I have super human strength until I brought both kids to the park on my own, and had to carry both home by the end of it. And that was just the start of carrying them both on my own while we’re out cos’ Blake says, ‘Mommy so strong. Carry!’ “

3.  Alicia – blogs at Beanie N Us and mom to 5.5 year-old Dumpling

“Ever since becoming a mom, I realised that I have quite a few super powers. I can multi-task: cook up a storm while shouting over my shoulder, listening to and correcting the kiddo while she practises on her violin. I am also a world-class nag and a full-time working homeschooling mum who teaches the little one English, Math and Science, in the evenings, while revising Chinese with her whenever we can.”

4.  Klessis, mom behind The J Babies and mother to two beautiful girls

“For a period of three years when my first daughter was  three months old till she was three, I would push her in a stroller to my office (where her nursery was). I would take a 15-minute walk from home to MRT station, take a 50-minute train ride then walk another 15 minutes to reach office everyday. The walking journey to office covers a total of 6 escalators and the escalators were often faulty! My arms became very muscular during that period of time from carrying the strollers up and down the stairs! That was the most tedious thing I’ve done since I became a mom.”

5.  Janice, mom blogger at Mish.Mash.Mess and mom to 2.5 year-old Little K

“Being a mom made me realise my potential hidden in the abyss which I wouldn’t have known if not for this role. The extent to which I can go for the kid – breastfeeding, sleepless nights, preparing homeschooling materials till past midnight and waking up early next day, cook lunch, chauffeur kid to school before heading to work… all this made even more difficult with a bun in the oven and very little help around. It’s exhausting but rewarding.”

6. Dominique – blogs at Dominique’s Desk and mom of three kids, aged 10, 7 and 3

“I’ve developed many wonder powers since becoming a mom and they multiply each time a kid is born. I can cook a five-course meal within an hour while at the same time supervising the kids while they are doing their homework in the hall.”

7. Connie, mom of two, aged 7 and 2 (plus one more on the way!), blogs at RayConnieBaby

“My threshold for pain… I chose to give birth to my two kids without epidural and what’s more, gave birth to my daughter without medical help right in the hospital!”

8. Waiwai, mom behind Peipei.Haohao, and mom to the two kids her blog is named after, aged 4 and 5

“Prepare a meal, guide my daughter to revise for spelling test, build a Lego house for my son, go to toilet to do ‘big business’. All done in 30 minutes.”

9.  Li-Mei – blogs at Finally Mama and mom to a two-and-a-half year-old boy

“After miscarriages and setbacks, I am a happy mama to a 2.5 year-old boy, a 1.5 year-old company called ‘The Whiz Times’ and praying for baby number two to come soon!”

10. Ling Siew, mom behind The View from Mama’s Desk and mom to two active boys aged 3 and 4.5

“Ever since I became a mom, I became better at multi-tasking: I can cook lunch, arbitrate fights, listen to two separate conversations, supervise homework, get the washing machine going all at the same time; and getting lunch on the table in under 20 minutes.”

11. Cen-Lin Ting, mom of two boys, aged 1 and 4.5 years old and blogs at Miracule

“Many cannot believe I can be a SAHM and even family members are worried if I can cope, but here I am, a mom of two, and I single-handedly manage the household chores on my own too! I also took up gardening at the community garden! I am proud to tell others I am the week-day driver, cook, maid, mom, educator and farmer!”

12. Mrs Kam, mom behind The Kam Family and mother of two, aged 4.5 and 6

“One of the many things that I embark on to achieve healthy living, is that my children go medicine-free. Both of them have been medicine-free for almost four years – no fever medicine, no cough medicine and antibiotics – they fight all the bugs naturally and recover very fast.”

13. Jenn, mother of a 7.5 year-old boy and blogger at Mylilbookworm

“Being career-minded, I never knew I could give up my promising job for a baby. I enjoy my current lifestyle so much that, after 7 years, I wouldn’t want to go back working in the corporate world anymore.”

14. Serene, mom blogger at Xavvylicious and mother of two, aged 6 years old and 9 months old

“Given my ‘cannot sit still’ character, I hated to stay in a place the whole day, not to mention staying at home! Even jobs that I used to have had me running on the ground. I have never imagined myself as an SAHM and am proud to tell everyone I DID IT! From things which I have never done in the first 26 years in my life to being able to perform it well with minimal help – cooking, homeschooling, crafting, baking, blogging, breastfeeding anytime, anywhere and being always out andabout with a pram and a diaper bag, with two kids!”

15. Elizabeth Soh-Teo, blogger at The Little Bow Girl and mother to 6-week-old Sophie Rose

“Less than two months ago before my baby arrived I was a different person – very vain and also very awkward about making friends. After becoming a mom (albeit a super new one) I can tolerate milk, vomit, spit, poo all over my new clothes without blinking an eyelid and give my baby a kiss instead. I now dare to make friends everywhere I go, from nursing rooms to baby clothes departments. Since being the grateful recipient of a disposable diaper from a stranger (we had packed too few), I try to pass on the favour and offer diapers/wipes/ a helping hand whenever I see that other changing room mummies have run out or struggling with an extra child. It’s a whole new world.”

16. Cherie, full-time working mom of two boys aged 3 and 1, and blogs at Cherieladie

“I never liked kids. I cannot bring myself to coo at any baby, or carry them and I would try to stay as far away as possible whenever I can. But I knew that I would definitely want my own kids some day. Now, with two kids. I guess I somewhat “survived” but I still cannot stand the noise they make.”

17. Hui Ing, mom behind Ingspirations, and mother of three, aged 8, 6 and 3

“I was a clean freak until I became a mom. Now, wiping poo, cleaning up vomit, even catching vomit with my bare hands is no big deal. On a less gross note, I discovered my multi-tasking powers which I never knew existed!”

18. Angie S, mom to Dana, aged 6 and blogger behind Princess Dana Diaries

“Being a mom has helped me become more aware of my own inadequacies and character flaws. It amplified my need to become less self-reliant and more dependent on God’s grace, wisdom and favour to parent this daughter whom He has blessed us with. It has made me a better person. From someone who was independent all her life since primary school, it’s been a great ride and I can say with all my heart that I would never trade being a mom for anything in the world.”

19. Amie, full-time working mother of three kids and blogger at Mamamie’s Thots

“Before I became a mum, I dislike driving and I’m very bad at remembering those road names or places I’ve been to. Ever since these three kids came into my life, I have to learn how to overcome my problem by being their full-time chauffeur and fetch them to and  from school and enrichment classes.”

20. Jiahui, full-time working mom of three kids, aged 9, 7 and 6 and mom blogger behind Mum’s the Word

“The last nine years taught me that there is really power in my words. Everything I say is caught by the kids, my words taken ransom, my promises brought to remembrance, my theories stripped apart. I learnt to use my words to speak life into my kids, speak blessings and hope. They taught me to slow down and think before I speak. They showed me that words can shape lives.”

21. Jac, blogs at The Little Mom and mother of two

“I never knew I can smell someone’s butt in public or “study” someone else’s poo. Or striking a conversation with another stranger to share some tips. Or worst sharing my ice-cream with not one but two persons until I became a mom!” 

22. Edlyn, mother of three and blogger behind Mummy Ed

“I have not slept in six years.”

23. And last, but not least… Motherkao, mother of three kids aged 5, 4 and 2 and blogger behind this blog you’re now reading

“I did three kids in four years and my body has never really gotten any rest since 2009. I chauffeur, cook and clean. I’m totally hands-on. I left my job to be there for them every minute of their lives. I am now with them 24/7 (almost!) and have never once missed a single tuck-in. No, not even one night.”


What about you? What’s your bragging right? Go on, I’ll let you brag – share them with me in the comments below!

“If I had no children, my house would be clean and my wallet would be full; but then my heart would be empty.”

Picture credit:

Picture credit:

Happy Mother’s Day!

Close encounters with the maid kind Family life as we know it I ♥ lists The Kao Kids The real supermom Thunderstorm days

3 lists, 30 things, 7 days

May 6, 2014

It’s Day 7 since I sent the helper back to the agency after she demonstrated how weak-willed and unwilling to work she was. It’s the longest I’ve ever been without a helper since I’ve had three kids, and it’s going to be this way a while more at least.

There’s just one word to describe it all.


On the brighter side of things, I now have a list of 10 things I never really say but now say so very often, 10 things I’ve discovered since maid-less, and 10 things I am eternally grateful for. I’m exhausted, but that ain’t gonna stop me from making lists, and more lists.


10 things I never really say, but say so often now:

1. “I’m ONLY ONE person now, kids. So please (fill in the blanks).” Usually it’s “cooperate”, “do it yourself”, “help me out here” or “follow instructions quickly”.

2. “Do I look like I’ve got an extra pair of hands or legs?” This is usually in response to the kids making requests like finding a lost toy or picking a book off a shelf they can’t reach – and always at a time when I am unavailable to help. I now make them solve their problems – by taking a stool, using a torch, and getting help from the other siblings.

3. “My back is breaking.” Self-explanatory. Said whenever I feel my back is breaking. Which is very often.

4. “Seriously. Like seriously.” Said whenever the kids start fighting for my attention or squabble amongst themselves whenever I am at my busiest.

5. “Sorry I can’t sayang / hug / cuddle / kiss you now. My hands are full of soap.” The kids always seem to have a boo-boo for me to kiss whenever I am washing the dishes.

6. “Can you please wait? I can only do one thing at a time.” I can’t dry three wet kids at the same time but it’s always the same time they want to get out of the bath. And they get really upset who gets to be towel-dried first.

7. “Want to watch TV?” I usually never offer much but ever since we became maid-less… It was something that had to be so that I can cook / hang the laundry / do the dishes / wash the toilets. SIGH.

8. “Aunties are a privilege. Now no Aunty so please do it yourself.” Said to the kids whenever they revert to suddenly not being able to do what they can do on their own and asking for help, like wearing their socks and shoes and bringing things back to the kitchen.

9. “Too bad! No Aunty!” Said as a taunt after #8 and when a tantrum is thrown for not getting help.

10. “Are you going to give me problems? Are you seriously going to give me problems now?!” This can be said in an exasperated tone, in a furious manner or in a totally resigned style when the kids start to act up or refuse to do the things as they are told.


10 things I discovered, since going maid-less:

1. If children don’t test boundaries, they won’t be children.

2. If children don’t make a mess, they won’t be children.

3. If children can learn instinctively how to clean up, sort and organise, they won’t be children.

4. That children CAN be taught to clean up, sort and organise, and they HAVE TO BE taught; and this ability comes with age and a sense of responsibility.

5. That Ben is as OCD as I am, and I can always count on him to pack in the OCD way I’ve trained him to.

6. That going on all fours to mop to the house with a cloth and a pail of water is faster than using the vacuum cleaner and then the mop.

7. That it’s OK to wash the children’s laundry together with ours.

8. That if I told the children I’m gonna be turning into a monster they would do as quickly as they are told.

9. That the children can watch Frozen or Lego Star Wars: The Movie again and again, and be completely engaged even if it’s their 18th time watching it because they are really watching it to repeat the lines after each character.

Although I don't agree with the "No right, no wrong, no rules for me - Let it go" and some other parts of the lyrics of the song, the kids love, love, love this movie. Especially Becks.

Although I don’t agree with the “No right, no wrong, no rules for me – Let it go!” and some other parts of the lyrics, the kids love, love, love this movie and the theme song. Especially Becks.

10. That even if Frozen or Lego Star Wars: The Movie is on, the littlest will still come and hug my legs and not give me a break; either that or he will be up to some mischief somewhere in the house, like wetting tissue papers at the basin, flipping his (cloth) “roti prata” up the ceiling or colouring the switches in the house with crayons. Why am I not surprised. The most he can sit through is the ‘Let It Go’ song.


10 things I am eternally grateful for…

1. Forgiving and accepting children, whom I can always count on to remind me not to yell.

2. Helpful children who will try to help out as much as they can.

There's clean clothes to fold every single day, and on most days the kids are enthusiastic

There’s clean clothes to fold every single day, and on most days the kids are enthusiastic

3. The husband, who’s a solid rock for the family and me, and who would gamely whip up a three-course dinner in a stuffy kitchen complete with jazz music and a glass of red, and then help to clean up and put the kitchen back in order.

The photo on the left had 113 likes after I shared how this man would cook a meal, do everything and still smile at the camera. I would've bitten everyone's head off if they stepped into the kitchen if it were me.

The photo on the left had 113 likes on FB after I shared how this man would cook a meal, do everything and still smile for the camera. I would’ve bitten everyone’s head off if they stepped into the kitchen if it were me.

4. Kitchen appliances that help automate processes and simplify things. I officially love our bread machine, washing machine, Espresso machine, microwave and Philips Airfryer on a whole new level now.

5. This contraption from Tupperware (whoever who gave me this gift, bless your soul!) that allows me to dice my garlic and shallots in 30 seconds which I can store and keep in the fridge for later use. You know how troublesome it is with Chinese cooking, with all the garlic, shallots, ginger and all.

It's a spinning dicer of sorts and it's small, handy and easy to clean!

It’s a spinning dicer of sorts and it’s small, handy and easy to clean!

6. Supplements that give me a little extra ounce of energy and makes me feel more recharged every morning.

I used to never take any supplements but now I'm liking what I'm taking (from L to R): I'm getting sponsored to try out Forever Living's Arctic Sea; Focus Point (by Root King) from my MIL who insists that I take these for my brain and cholesterol; Longevity from YL which lets me swallow Frankincense, Clove & Orange in a capsule; and a Multivitamin from Nature's Way which the husband makes me take

I used to never take any supplements but now I’m liking what I’m taking (from L to R): I’m getting sponsored to try out Forever Living’s Arctic Sea; Focus Point (by Root King) from my MIL who insists that I take these for my brain and cholesterol; Longevity from YL which lets me swallow Frankincense, Clove & Orange oil in a capsule; and a multivitamin from Nature’s Way which the husband makes me take

7. This wonderful invention called the jigsaw puzzle which keeps the kids engaged for at least 10 minutes. A few minutes of silence is always a good thing.

Thank God for jigsaws!

Thank God for jigsaws!

8. Educational resources like these which I use to keep kids occupied and improvise for our homelearning (no time to create and make new things!): flashcards, magnetic word and shape strips, counters and activity books with colouring, mazes and word search.

I buy at a sale and keep these in my stash. Very handy indeed.

I buy at a sale and keep these in my stash. Very handy indeed.

And these 3 for $10 activity books are great value-for-money and lets the kids go gadget-free while waiting for their food outside

And these 3 for $10 activity books are great value-for-money and let the kids go gadget-free while waiting for their food outside

9. Community libraries all over Singapore. We can always pop in one of those in the day to escape from the sweltering heat, nestle into one of those comfy couches and read away.

Hanging out at the library

Hanging out at the library

10. Young Living’s ‘Peace and Calming’ Essential Oil. This blend magically calms me down and helps me unwind. At first it smelled really strange. But then I grew to like it so much I need it to help me sleep. And I sleep very well because of it.

YL Peace and Calming EO

Also linking up with Mum in the Making‘s Thankful Tuesdays:

Close encounters with the maid kind Family life as we know it Milestones and growing up Re: learning and child training The Kao Kids The real supermom Thunderstorm days

An unexpected trickle of happiness (nope, not because the new maid is here)

May 2, 2014

I’m bone tired and beyond exhausted, but you know what?

I’m actually very, very happy.

I’ll tell you why I’m happy. First reason.

My kids. It’s beginning to look like they are going to be well-trained.

The new helper was sent back a few days ago, and other than witnessing on the same day their mother morphing into a monster and militant ready for combat right before their eyes – complete with aggressive hollering, arms flailing and the crazy quivering; oh yes, and the often sung refrain at 140 decibels equivalent to a jet plane take-off “I AM ONLY ONE PERSON, THERE’S NO MORE AUNTY OK!”, the kids are pretty much well-adjusted to the fact that there’s only one pair of adult hands, eyes and feet in the day, at least before their father returns.

I think that seeing me react so violently under the stress of suddenly needing to handle everything alone from the moment we wake till the minute everyone hits the sack made Ben and Becks realise that things can’t be what they used to be any more.

The afternoon the helper left, we came home and I started putting things in order. I tidied up, I bathed them, I gave instructions clearly and I prepared dinner. Then we had dinner – and they had to eat every single thing I cooked with no complaints, I washed the dishes, prepped everything ready for school the next day, cleaned them up and tucked them in bed. Things didn’t go smoothly, of course. Nat stuck a Yakult straw in his ear. Someone left the tap running while I got busy. Becks left some pee on the toilet seat. Ben splashed water everywhere showering himself. They made faces at the meal I cooked. Crayons were strewn all over the living room floor. My legs were hugged while I was stir-frying. Nat begged to be nursed while kitchen fumes filled the house. Becks whined for an apple while I was chopping garlic. Nat tried to reach for knives. I could list 50 more things that happened but I don’t want to bore. Basically just three words: the kids happened.

But in the midst of the chaos, the kids happened! Ben took on his role as big brother readily and (sometimes) helped me watch and distract the mischievous littlest. They asked how they could help and by the end of the day we were all at the sink, with me doing the washing and the kids drying the plates and cutlery. All three of them, yes! They promised to help more. They offered to make less of a mess when they played or coloured or drew. They agreed to respond quickly to my commands so that I don’t have to turn into something ugly and start yelling.

By the second day, they were offering help in every way – from folding the clothes to picking up eraser dust and handing me the clothes pegs. They moved quickly when I called, got ready for school without needing help with socks and shoes. They carried their bags and heavy water bottles with no whining, and brought everything back to the sink whenever they were done with drinking and eating. We cleaned up in record time – Lego blocks were picked up and sorted, books were returned to the shelves and crayons back in the basket on the easel.

A mountain to conquer!

We conquered mountains (of clothes) together

When we headed out, they held hands and told me not to worry.

The car was at the mechanic and we were bus-ing to school - and this happened!

The car was at the mechanic and we were bus-ing to school – and this happened!

Can somebody first give me a pat on the back before applauding for these kids?

I’ll tell you the second reason why I’m happy.

The maid’s departure gave me a chance to be my totally OCD self. She came, whirled through my kitchen and made a big mess with my children’s wardrobe. Now that she’s gone, I singlehandedly sorted and organised my children’s clothes – sleepwear, underwear, home wear, going out wear, swimwear – and even managed to categorise everything according to clothes type, colour and size. I turned every single spoon, fork and chopstick in the cutlery tray in the same direction, bundled bedsheets by sets, cleaned out the fridge for expired items and hung out the laundry the way my OCD self would be happy doing. I’m a strange person to be feeling merry just rolling socks the way I want them paired and scrubbing toilets with just one toothbrush, but yes, I am merrily, merrily doing all these.

Now, this is what I’ve been dreaming about, albeit with much muscle ache and terribly wrinkled hands – a house in order at last.

Just proves one point: who’s the BEST maid for my house?


But that doesn’t mean I am not going to decide against hiring a helper. I’m bone tired and beyond exhausted, remember?

I think this absence of a domestic helper is doing the kids who have been taking many things for granted a whole lot of good. We’ve got two weeks to shape up before a new one comes and I have a feeling we’ll be doing even better by then – to the point that we’ll have a relationship with her that’s interdependent and not dependent, and that is the third reason why I’m happy.

Ben Kao Everyday fun! Family life as we know it Milestones and growing up The Kao Kids The real supermom

Of drawings and homework for Mom

April 9, 2014

My kids are finally drawing things that make sense.

And labelling them so that we know what they are, just in case we can’t make out what they are drawing.

I’m glad I was one of those parents that allowed them to draw and draw (on paper, that is) when they were ready to start and held my tongue when I could make no sense of what they did. And boy am I also glad I refrained from giving too much feedback and making too many adult comments because gone are the days of colour globs and splashes, human beings with no limbs and animals that look like extraterrestrial creatures.

I can’t get these days – and drawings – back anymore.

Ben's drawings of animals at 4 years old

Ben’s drawings of animals at 4 years old

Becks' art: I always wondered what they were

Becks’ art: I always wondered what they were

More things that leave me wondering

More things that leave me wondering

While those former days were cute, these days I’m seeing even cuter things.

Now Becks is drawing more recognisable stick people...

Now Becks is drawing more recognisable stick people…

...And me on a bad day

… Me on a bad day

... And me on a good day - ain't I pretty?

… And me on a good day – ain’t I pretty?

Little Nat can also draw many basketballs (his favourite!)

Little Nat can also draw many basketballs (his favourite!)

And this is Ben's version of me!

And this is Ben’s version of me, which has evolved (the one above was drawn a year earlier)!

More recognisable zoo animals now, as compared to half a year ago

More recognisable zoo animals now, as compared to half a year ago

I even get homework from my eldest, who thinks it’s absolute fun to be designing worksheets for me to do. He leaves them on my desk with “instructions” by blending each word he cannot spell by heart and writing them on the worksheet. Since then, I’ve done a couple of Chinese characters, navigated through mazes he designed and even had to “grow” people in boxes.

He leaves me notes to read...

He leaves me notes to read…

This is for me to guess. G for...?

This is for me to guess. G for…?

So one day I came home and found that I needed to do 习字 !!!

So one day I came home and found that I needed to do 习字 !!!

Plus navigate these mazes to get animals out of trouble

Plus navigate these mazes to get animals out of trouble

And this is the one I'm supposed to grow people in boxes. Ben meant 'draw' actually!

And this is the one I’m supposed to grow people in boxes. Ben meant ‘draw’ actually!

So on top of doing school runs, enrichment runs, grocery runs and hospital runs, I come home now to a pile of worksheets needing to be completed. The day my little girl and the littlest follow their older brother (to give me worksheets, that is), I tell you, I’m so going to be one exhausted mother.

Am not complaining, actually, because these kids entertain me tremendously with what they are drawing. Motherhood just got better.

(Self) Examination Family life as we know it Milestones and growing up The real supermom

Is it you, January?

January 10, 2014


It’s only the second week of January and I’m already suffocating. Every day has been crazy, crazy, crazy with two preschoolers and a toddler needing attention, wanting to learn and all pumped up from 7 to 9 wanting to play / mess up the house / clown around. That plus I’m no longer just stay-at-home-home-teaching-mom. I’m also now work-at-home-mom, getting-ready-to-start-a-business-mom and adjunct-lecturer-mom. This year, we’re prepping to finally start something we’ve wanted to do for the longest time (and that is draining a lot from me mentally) and I’m also going to doing a short stint lecturing at a post-grad institution.

This is supposed to be exciting, but I’m kinda bummed that blogger-mom (or is it mom-blogger) has to be ranked at the bottom of my long list of duties and responsibilities. And since the blog is ultimately about the kids and for the kids, it just doesn’t make sense to be drafting blog posts while they languish like attention-deprived kids needing the mom presence.

As it is, it’s been pretty challenging to try to home teach them fruitfully, chauffeur them around to kindy, enrichment (we are only at Berries and kindly sponsored by Eye Level), and all the what-nots like parties, events and gatherings, PLUS prepare work for the business and for the adjunct teaching stint (readings, grading, lesson prep – I’m with adult learners this time!). That in addition to doing grocery runs and playgroup runs thrice a week, trying to plan for special time with each individual kid, and spending time to do things with the littlest one who is growing up really fast (and not leaving him with the helper all the time). I do have so much to share about the activities we do homelearning together and the things that have worked for us (I’ve not forgotten my Teaching the Kao Kids Series!) but most days I just want to immerse myself in learning together with them and not think about photos and posts to publish while I’m with the kids.

Having said that, I know that 2014 is going to be another excitingly fun year for all of us, and there is much to be thrilled about. I will share as much as I can and rant as much I need whenever I need a sanity break, I promise.

Here’s to an awesomely glorious 2014 where moms like you and me develop MORE super powers!

...And trying to be SUPER!

…And trying to be SUPER!

Learning fun! Milestones and growing up The real supermom

The kiasu mother strikes

December 18, 2013

We’re all set for next year!

Weekly schedule prepared and learning wall updated – check.

Living room organised

Individual learning outcomes for Ben and Becks for 2014 – check.

Learning outcomes done

Learning spaces organised, materials for next year researched, purchased and tested – check.

Study room organised

I’m a scary, kiasu mother, I know.

In other news, I’m taking a break from blogging for a while (except for some of my scheduled posts which you would be seeing – look out for the Airfryer one tomorrow!) because I’m off to saranghaeyo (drama)land where melodrama prevails and love always triumphs all. before a new year begins!

Holidays! I ♥ lists Motherkao loves... The Kao Kids The real supermom

10 tips to survive Hongkong with small children

September 19, 2013

Now that I’ve gone to Hong Kong and back, and have survived a holiday with three kids, I guess I am somewhat qualified to write this post. I learned some stuff the hard way, and these lessons involved some sweat, a lot of tears, and even blood. If you’re heading to Hong Kong with toddlers or young children, you might want to keep some of these in mind.

1. Get the Octopus at the airport instead of the MTR station when you arrive

We had originally planned to buy our Octopus cards on the second day at the MTR station nearest to our hotel but I was really glad we purchased them together with our Airport Express tickets at the Airport Express Counter at Terminal 1 after touching down. We arrived in HK on a Saturday evening and the second day for us was a Sunday – which means everyone, I mean, everyone, was out on the streets. I think there were at least a few thousand Filipino domestic workers out that Sunday we were there, as well as hordes of tourists from Mainland China and HK’s own people, who love visiting the malls on Sundays.

So boy was I glad to have gotten the cards at the counter at the airport where there was no queue and zero jostling.

Octopus is accepted all over Hong Kong and can be used for transportation (we used it for the MTR, Star Ferry and the tram) and parking, at retail outlets and self-service machines. You can pay for stuff you buy from 7-11 with the card, which is really convenient.

2. When the menu in HK restaurants reads ‘steamed rice’, the rice is really steamed

When we arrived in HK on Saturday evening, the first thing we did was to travel by Airport Express to Kowloon to catch the free shuttle service to our hotel at Yau Ma Tei. That took close to an hour, including the 15 minute wait for the shuttle bus, but it saved us quite a bit of money (taking a taxi would have cost 3 times as much). By the time we checked in at The Cityview, a four-star hotel in Kowloon, we were famished. Three starving children is never a good thing, so we headed to The Balcony, a restaurant at the hotel, for our dinner. We ordered the set dinner and asked for the rice to be served first.

Who would have thought asking for rice first to feed my very hungry children would be our most frustrating wait ever.

The dishes came, one after another, but the rice didn’t, and the children remained hungry and whiny. 18-month-old Nat needed rice as his staple but the rice which was part of the set wasn’t served together with the dishes! We waited close to 20 minutes, only to realize that when the piping hot bowls of rice appeared on our table, they were not rice scooped from the rice cooker. The rice was steamed, bowl by bowl! Every grain was fragrant and steamed to perfection, and well, it was a case of better late than never for us.

So my advice to you if you’ve got really hungry kids: order fried rice or noodles or something that they can cook up quick to tide them over the hunger pangs. Steamed rice is really steamed in Hong Kong.

Rice is here! Can't wait!

Rice is here! Can’t wait!

3) People give up seats on public transportation, so learn to say thank you in Cantonese

Sunday was horrendously crowded in Hong Kong and people were packed closer than sardines in tins on their MTRs and trams (Star Ferry was less crowded). Despite that, it was amazing to see men and women giving up their seats for me, who was wearing the baby, and the two older kids. Despite the jostling and shuffling, there’s a whole lot of civility and consideration on public transport.

I made a mental note to myself that I need to teach Ben, Becks and Nat to say thank you in Cantonese the next time we’re there.

4) Don’t drink the soup

My children are soup kids. They love ban mian, which they call ‘ikan bilis noodles soup’ and all the soup versions of noodles we eat here in Singapore, like sliced fish soup, wanton mee and ba chor mee. For breakfast on the second day, we gave up waiting for a table at Lin Heung Kui and headed to one of those eateries along the street for some wanton noodles (wan tan min in Cantonese). When the noodles were served, I dished out three portions of noodles, complete with soup, for the kids.

Which was a big mistake.

Turns out that humble eateries like these don’t make broth. Their ‘soup’ is just yucky lye water (alkaline salts, or what we call kee in Hokkien) and horrible! And they don’t have wanton noodles in version dry: chilli with tomato sauce, tyvm, the way I like mine, which was a bummer.

So unless it’s a restaurant and the noodles are cooked in broth, don’t drink the lye water when you eat your yu dan min or wan tan min. Just give the kids the noodles and the dumplings.

5) Bring along children’s cutlery and food scissors, and always go to a restaurant that can strap your baby in on a baby chair

It’s impossible to get eateries and restaurants in Hong Kong to provide you with children’s cutlery and plastic plates and bowls, unless it’s Disneyland. I was well-prepared for this and brought along many kiddy spoons (the ones for soup too) and forks. My kids are 4 and 3 and 19 months and the tablespoon, soup spoon and table fork are still a tad big for them. I also brought two pairs of food scissors to cut the noodles, veggies and meat (ooh, love the char siew there!), as well as hand-and-mouth wipes (Pigeon’s wipes contain 100% food grade ingredients, so I feel at ease cleaning the scissors and cutlery with those wipes).

A note on the food scissors: remember to leave them in your check-in luggage, else they would be confiscated at the security check at the airport.

What I didn’t brace myself for, was that some restaurants don’t even have a decent baby chair to strap an active toddler in! Ben can sit still and wait for food, and so can Becks, if we make sure she’s got stuff to do, like scribble on serviettes (I always have pens in my bag), eat peanuts or play scissors-paper-stone with someone. But to make Nat wait even a minute without strapping him on a baby chair at a table with breakable ceramic and child-unfriendly everything (think sharp table corners, hot teapots, musty carpets and peanuts) is to ask for trouble.

And ask for trouble we did, on the second night.

This restaurant apparently serves great shabu shabu and yakitori grill but it was a huge mistake taking the kids there. Even if we had asked that the grilling be done for us in the kitchen. They had absolutely zero baby chair. So when I took my eyes off Nat for a few minutes (I need a vision break too, yes?), he cut his lip and chin while playing peek-a-boo with himself with the mirror behind the bench he was seated.

I almost fainted from seeing so much blood coming out from inside his mouth and the area around his chin. There was a cut (it looked like a cm long) that was gaping and for the moment there I thought he might need stitching. His lip was swelling and his teeth started turning red with blood mixed with saliva. Thank God the two cuts closed quickly with prayer and an ice cube.

So yes, this lesson was learned with blood.

If you have an active toddler, remember to ask the restaurant if they have a baby chair for his safety.

Nat's a tough one, this boy: smiling even after a fall

Nat’s a tough one, this boy: smiling even after a fall

6) Check the weather, and leave those raincoats at home in September

Download the app MyObservatory. My good friend who lived a year in Hong Kong told me that she referred to it every day before she headed out. The app provides personalized weather services, and users can get the latest weather information specific to their locations and an overview of a week’s forecast of HK’s weather.

I should have trusted the info on the app and left the raincoats at home. What was I thinking, bringing the raincoats and windbreakers and jackets! It didn’t rained a single bit while we were there. In fact, it was scorching hot and humid in September!

7) When at Disney, be prepared to be a slave

We spent close to 10 hours in Disneyland and I’m sure the kids were very glad they did minimal walking. They only stood when we had to queue and that was all the walking they did. You can rent strollers for HKD 90 at Main Street in Disneyland – and we rented three of them. Unfortunately, the strollers cannot be remote-controlled and the poor exhausted adults had to push these kiddos everywhere we went.

It was also HOT, HOT, HOT and there was very little shade. Bring a brolly and slather sunblock generously. I’m telling you, SPF 25 is NOT enough. I got sunburnt still. Go for SPF 50 and more. I slabbed copious amounts of that for the kids and they were saved. Oh, plus the fact they sat on strollers that had a little canopy that covered their heads.

Slavery begins at Disney

Slavery begins at Disney

8) Not everything you see in the gift shops can be found in Main Street. Or at the hotels. Or at the airport.

So I read from some blogs that you can get souvenirs from Disney almost anywhere. There are souvenir shops in the two Disney hotels and one huge one at the airport. And they say whatever you see in those little souvenir corners, shops and carts in all the various lands in Disney you can be sure to see the same stuff at the mega huge shop at Main Street.

Nope, sorree‘!

See this Pluto stuffed toy here?

This Pluto is special cos' it's lying on its tummy!

This Pluto is special cos’ it’s terrycloth material and Pluto’s lying on its tummy!

Ben fell in love with it when he saw it in Fantasyland. I told him, naa, we can buy it at the hotel, I’m not gonna lug this all the way and it’s like what, only 5pm, and I’m here to announce to you that we searched high and low for it after we left Fantasyland and couldn’t find it anywhere else. Nope, not even at the airport! In the end, I had to go to the Disney Store at Nex back in Singapore, and even then the Pluto we got in Singapore looked different.

A word of advice: never ever leave the buying of souvenirs to the end of the day before the park closes (after the fireworks, that is). Buy them if you want them when you see them. At the corners. From the carts. At those themed stores after your rides. Whenever. Wherever. The stores at Main Street after the fireworks suddenly turned into the all-so-familiar scenes of frantic buying and grabbing as if an apocalypse was going to wipe Mickey and Friends out from the face of the earth forever. There was way too much pushing and shoving (I tried to go find Pluto) in the souvenir shops; and it took me a long while to jostle my way out.

9) Bubble tea is not everywhere – when you see it, tapao!

I’m a hopeless addict to bubble tea. I have it without the bubble though; I need the tea to function normally on a daily basis. So there was no *Share Tea or Drink Tea or Koi where I went. I did see a ComeBuy, and I was ecstatic. Just minutes ago before seeing ComeBuy, I was at a cha chan teng trying to psycho myself that HK milk tea could somehow remotely taste like bubble tea. Good thing I didn’t down the nai cha. I couldn’t be happier to be sipping my ComeBuy Milk Tea.

I also found a Gong Cha near the hotel we stayed. Should have tapaoed one and kept it in the fridge. Needless to say, I was zombiefied at Disneyland because there was no bubble tea.

(*Share Tea, Drink Tea, Koi, ComeBuy and Gong Cha are the names of bubble tea shops. My favourite has to be Drink Tea!)

10) Toilets are hard to find. Forget pull-up pants.

One of the things that was extremely difficult to locate, besides bubble tea, was the toilet! We could hardly find public toilets and even despite asking so many people at the MTR station where the toilet was, we couldn’t find one in the station or near it to help Ben answer nature’s call. At Ladies’ Market and Electrical Appliance Street, we searched for toilets everywhere and there was none in the malls! I kept having to tell Ben to hold his pee in and even wanted to put on the diaper for him at one point, because it was just all too frustrating to be searching for a toilet for a boy needing to pee A LOT.

Of course, clean toilets are aplenty if you hang out at the more upmarket malls in Hongkong Island. Where we were at Kowloon, we always needed to get a drink at a cha chan teng or wait till meal times at restaurants to use the toilet.

Fortunately, Becks and Nat had diapers on the whole time. I’m not about to put myself in a situation where I have to bring three kids to pee. At different times. All the time.

On hindsight, I should have made them wear the Velcro ones instead of pull ups. Pull-ups are supposedly convenient to remove (just tear sides – easy if it’s not soiled) but difficult to put on. Especially when the kids are wearing jeans and socks and shoes. To pull up the pull-up, they’ve got to remove their shoes and socks and take off their jeans. Very tricky if the toilet floors are wet and dirty. If I’d brought along Velcro ones, they’d be easier to remove (just unfasten Velcro). And to wear them, all I need to do is to get them to remove their pants to knee level without taking their legs out and fasten the diaper with them in a semi-squat position (it takes skill to wear it for them standing up, but then again, I’m a mom of three!).

So just for the record, I need to say that it was hell changing Nat’s poopy diaper on the plane. He refused to lie down on the changing table. He was wearing a pull-up. He stood while I removed a diaper bomb of yesterday’s dinner. There was some turbulence. He refused to stay still while I cleaned. Let’s just say shit happened. If he had worn a Velcro one, it would have been much easier to remove, roll up and dispose. This tearing-a-pull-up’s-sides business always leaves you with a mess especially in a confined space.

And of course, may I also add Tip#11 for mums like me who have three young children? Don’t be a hero. Bring your maid. Bring a troop of babysitters. You need all the help you can get.

You’re most welcome for these tips.

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More reasons to shop at RedMart

August 15, 2013

If you’ve not been to RedMart, you really should. And you don’t need to travel physically there, push a trolley or wish that the ground would swallow you up when your kids monkey around and pinch everything they see along the aisles, cos’ all you need is a mouse, a computer and internet connection. If you have an iPhone, you could even download their app and grocery-shop on the move.

RedMart has close to 4,000 items in their store, and you could buy everything from baby supplies to pregnancy test kits to ready-to-eat briyani.

I am really impressed with the wide range of products they have in stock. During my previous shake-legs-grocery-shopping experience, I found the Chianti (Fatherkao’s favourite type of red wine), all the ingredients (from their extensive range in ‘Indian Selection’) which I would ever need to whip up a meal to rival Muthu’s Curry (not that I can, hurhur!), organic cleaning agents (like BabyGanics and Green Cleaners) and items like Eno, Panadol and calcium tablets to stock up the medicine cabinet.

I was really glad to have found this at this price!

Baby-safe cleaner at a discounted price!

Wide range of selection from Food & Beverage

And oh yes, if you ever found buying contraceptives embarrassing, you could even buy them here! No more need to explain to the kids that what you’re getting ain’t some funky candies!

The 'Sexual Wellness' Section

The ‘Sexual Wellness’ Section at RedMart

And for someone who’s big on product labels, I particularly appreciated the fact that at RedMart, I could view every single product in this online grocery store close up. This is something that gives Redmart an edge over its competitors. Especially for someone who’s a stickler for labels like me.

I don’t buy sauces, pastes and mixes without reading nutrition facts and I am on a constant look out for no-no’s like monosodium glutamate when I buy my oyster sauce, ketchup and sambal belachan from the supermarkets. I check where products are made and when they expire. I make sure that when I buy food, the “Trans Fat” reads 0g and “Cholesterol” 0%. When I get cleaning agents and bath products for the family, I always made sure they were sulphate- and paraben-free. I scrutinize every single ingredient that goes into making the product, especially the kinds of chemicals, and I consult Dr Google on the spot should I suspect something amiss.

At RedMart, I am glad that even though there are brief product descriptions provided for every product, I get to scrutinize the labels on the products just by mouse-ing over the area I wish to see enlarged before I decide to add them to my cart.

Case in point: remember I mentioned I needed to be consuming oatmeal for the rest of my life because the doctor instructed me to lower my LDL? I found Bob’s Red Mill Organic Brown Rice Farina Creamy Rice Hot Cereal (that’s a mouthful!) and decided I might want to be eating this for forever.

And since forever might be a long time and I’ve never heard of Bob’s Red Mill, I was really glad to be able to read the cooking instructions and all the other finer print on the packaging before buying it.

Reading the label closely

Reading the label closely

At RedMart, items are not just cleanly organized into distinctive categories – like products meticulously shelved in supermarkets –  you also get value-added shopping experience because you get to read product labels too, just like being there at the supermarket!

Now, how’s that for more shake legs grocery shopping?

More details:

The store comes to you at RedMart, with its large product selection of home essentials, same day delivery within 2-hour delivery windows (so you need only be home for 2 hours), free delivery on orders above $75, competitive prices and automatic reminders to restock. RedMart knows you have better things to do!

Disclosure: The good people at RedMart sponsored this post. All opinions here are my own.