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Spying with my ‘little’ eye – Fatherkao’s review of the D-Link DCS-936L HD wi-fi camera + a completely easy to set up guide

July 18, 2017
[Guest post – review by Fatherkao]

I’ve never thought of installing cameras at home. Until I got kids.

Suddenly, I was scrambling around looking for options, exploring the different types of CCTVs, Internet Protocol (IP) cameras and similar options at baby shows and IT shows and trying to memorize all the specifications as if they meant something. Truth be told, all those wonderful specifications of different cameras meant nothing because I did not understand a single thing. Who could tell the difference between a centralized IP and a decentralized IP camera system? Say what? I just needed something simple to set up and something that worked so I could check on my kids often.

In the end, I settled for a video baby monitor which gave me a limited range of a room in their early years. Towards their toddler years, a baby monitor was no longer good enough so a friend lent me his IP camera to try out but the setting up was really frustrating. Not to mention the available support for mobile apps was so limited. It was a total nightmare and I eventually gave up.

I was glad when the folks at D-Link sent us a D-Link DCS-936L HD wi-fi camera to review so I can see how much things have or have not changed since my last contact with an IP camera.

It changed my mind about IP cameras and I can now declare that technology has evolved!

Cameras are now getting better. The DCS-936L HD wi-fi camera has great features which users will appreciate and the best part is its quick and simple set up steps.

It’s also compact, sleek, extremely unobtrusive (not clunky or ugly) and very easy to position anywhere in the house.

The DSC-936L camera features a wide-angle lens which covers a 120° view angle (no panning required!) and the live 720p (1280 × 720) HD video during the day or night is sharp. The camera can be rotated to suit your preferred viewing angle and the video quality is excellent while the built-in microphone captures audio rather well.

I placed it just beside my fish tank to test out the audio and I could hear the faint burbling sounds of water quite clearly. Combined with the good live video quality, it was like those fish aquarium screensavers we used to have on our desktops! However, I do find the night vision mode overly sensitive on auto mode. You will also need to get used to the clicking sound every time it switches mode.

You can take great stills directly with mydlink phone app and store them on your phone or you can connect the camera to your D-Link network-attached storage (NAS) and store the stills and videos there. For me, I’m using both mydlink phone app and NAS.

There is also a MicroSD slot which can house a 128GB card. This means you can have up to 72 hours of continuous recording and much more based on where the camera is located. The camera features both motion and sound detection so you can always be assured of the responsive recording.

You can also adjust the sensitivity level for both motion and sound detection when the camera is set up.

The sound detection sensitivity level can be adjusted based on real-time information from the camera. This makes it very easy for users to adjust the detection level based on the ambient noise in the placed location.

For more technical specifications, you can refer to them here.

The box set comes with the camera, the power adaptor, 2 mounting screws, a Quick Installation guide and a Quick Install card.

The setting up of the camera caught me completely by surprise. It was so easy that I resisted the greatest impulse to run out and buy some more cameras to outfit my entire house. The Quick Install card is a must as it contains all the important information you will need to set up the camera. You will need to register a mydlink account using the mydlink Lite mobile app or on the mydlink website. Once you have successfully registered an account with mydlink, you can set up the camera with the following steps:

  1. Select “Remote” and not “Local”.
  2. Scan the QR code found in the Quick Install card after you click “Add a New Camera”.
  3. The app will locate the camera and a notification that the camera is connected will show at the bottom of the phone.
  4. Select the home wi-fi network for the camera to connect to. (I did not use the WPS function on the router as I was not sure what it would do.)
  5. Key in the camera wi-fi password found in the Quick Install card.
  6. It will then link the camera to your ‘mydlink’ account.

And it’s done.

Configure the camera to your heart’s content.

Fatherkao’s Verdict:

The D-Link DCS-936L HD wi-fi camera has certainly changed my mind about the ease of setting up an IP camera. The camera is packed with features and style which users would appreciate. And every noob would definitely love the plug and play features; you don’t have to know much technicalities to install one, for sure.

I have found this camera to be very reliable with no disconnectivity or over-heating issues and would definitely trust this little camera to spy on my children.

Disclosure: D-Link sent across this camera for the purpose of the review. All opinions here are our own, and we only share what we think, in utmost honesty!

Becks Kao Fatherkao writes

daddy’s girl at last

July 30, 2015

Blog-01-Pic (1)

Once upon a time, God sent an angel down.

She had the sweetest smile and her father’s heart stirred.

The closest of angels whispered she was sure to be her daddy’s little girl.

But her father said, “I have two other children and love must be fair.”

Blog-01-Pic (2) Months passed and she grew strong and well.

She had the strongest of spirit and her father’s heart stirred.

The closest of family whispered she was sure to be her daddy’s little girl.

But her father said, “I have two other children and love must be fair.”

Blog-01-Pic (3)

 Years passed and she grew pretty and sensitive.

She had the most beautiful of hearts and her father’s heart stirred.

The closest of friends whispered she was sure to be her daddy’s little girl.

But her father said, “I have two other children and love must be fair.”

Blog-01-Pic (4)One day, when her father was asleep, she snuck onto the bed and lay next to him.

When he woke, she turned and smiled at him and her father’s heart melted.

God whispered she was sure to be her daddy’s little girl.

And her father finally said , “I only have one daughter and love will never be fair.”


 To all fathers, who have succumbed…

(Self) Examination

Sorry for the Silence

July 23, 2015

This blog has been silent for a while ever since my last post on running the Sundown Marathon with my eldest.

While there is so much to unload, reflect, examine and share, like you, I have only 24 hours. Something’s gotta give, and so much gave, this year. One of it is this blog which has been my virtual space for solitude and as a repository of memories. They say business – and to build a successful one – is all about training, discipline and hard work. I couldn’t agree more. Tis’ so true. Plus, I think “hard work” is an understatement here; I’ve never known myself to work harder than now.

And so, before I get to enjoy the fruits of entrepreneurship and find some leisure time to reconnect with the wordsmith that I am and the thoughts in my head, I’m bringing in another writer on the blog.

Yep, you heard me right. Someone else will be writing on this blog.

Well, we’ve made a semi-permanent arrangement here. I want so much as well for this someone else to share about parenting, with its ups and downs, complete with the spills, bills and thrills.

So everyone, wait for it.

Fatherkao will be coming to the blog.


All this blog's PR Stuff Ben Kao Happy days Milestones and growing up The real supermom

Sundown with love, running at sundown with my loves

July 10, 2015

I wanted to give up long before race day. There were more than enough reasons to anyway.

I needed to focus on work and cancel out any distraction.  There were processes to settle, curriculum to prepare and ideas to incubate. I didn’t have time to train (except for the five calories-burning sessions at Active Hive – another post on that soon). My husband, who was taking part in the Sundown Marathon with me, was not well for a long while with a phlegmy cough that didn’t go away. Ben had been having the sniffles too with his sensitive nose acting up a lot these days.

But a commitment is a commitment is a commitment. I said I’d do the 5km Fun Run for Sanctuary House, which I’ve been attempting to canvass donations for.

When Race Day arrived – and we were supposed to report at 7pm – I was already totally exhausted from being at work 6 hours earlier in the day. Fatherkao had a headache and popped two panadols that evening. The only one raring to go was Ben. And I had two other whining, unhappy, digruntled children who wouldn’t give me a break with their incessant grumblings about why they had to stay home with the helper. Not even TV helped.

But still we went, because a commitment is a commitment is a commitment, and boy, were we glad we did. That cool, lovely evening on 4 July totally made it to one of the high points of my year.

It was beautiful to be running at sundown.

The sunset view from Fatherkao's phone camera

The sunset view from Fatherkao’s phone camera

Add to that, the thoughtful organisers timed the Fun Run flag off to coincide with the fireworks from the NDP Rehearsal. We stopped after 1 km, stood by the Singapore River facing the Fullerton, and took in the breathtaking sights of the fireworks display before our eyes. Absolutely spectacular.

How close did we come ti soak in this spectacular sight?

How close did we come to soak in this spectacular sight?

This close. What a treat for the run!

This close. What a treat for the run!

And then being able make it to the half way mark with my firstborn – holding hands, encouraging him to press on, and sometimes looking at him from the back (yes, he got ahead of his very exhausted Mama) and thanking God that I have been blessed with lovely, healthy children.

Had this picture of the boys' back edited as a sketch because it's more poignant that way. I want to give thanks for the fact that in front of me ran two healthy boys!

Had this picture of the boys’ back edited as a sketch because it’s more poignant that way. I want to give thanks for the fact that in front of me ran two healthy boys!

And also extremely grateful that my husband, who hates running very much, was doing this with us with nary a grumble, encouraging Ben and me along the way, and teaching my firstborn some of life’s precious lessons. Overheard many times was the father telling the son to press on, not give up and reach for our goal. There were so many precious bonding moments no amount of money can buy.

When we held hands and made it through the finish line, it was touching to see the look of pride my son had on his face. That beaming, proud face after experiencing his first 5km-run. That look that says he’s grown up a little more after that evening.

Just the 3 of us

Just the 3 of us

Ben's well-deserved medal!

Ben’s well-deserved medal!

We had a lovely night after the run, being hosted by the organisers for dinner at the VIP tent, and talking a nice long walk to the MRT station talking about the events of the day and what the run was like for us. It was really, really nice to be walking hand in hand – just the three of us – like we were the best of friends and it was a beautiful and special moment for our firstborn too. I want to be doing this some time soon with Becks and then with Nat. I think that would be equally incredible.

Thank you, OSIM and Hivelocity, for the invitation to join the Sundown Marathon as a Sundown with Love Ambassador. We received more love that day than we could give.

Donations for Sanctuary House via the Sundown with Love platform closes 31 July 2015. If you could show a little love, click this link.

Disclosure: We were invited to be social influencers for the OSIM Sundown Marathon. No monetary compensation was received. All opinions here are our own.

All this blog's PR Stuff Food, glorious food! Going Out! Holidays! The Kao Kids

Fly away spontaneity

April 29, 2015
The Transit Lounge at T2 where sunflowers abound and one is a little closer to the planes and skies

The Transit Lounge at T2 where sunflowers abound and one is a little closer to the planes and skies

During the long weekend that was the Good Friday weekend that was in April, we did the crazy spontaneous.

We booked a budget flight and got onto to the plane, away to KL for a 1D1N.

Yes, we left the country for a one-day-one-night spontaneous family getaway.

And it was such a fun one with everyone in tow, helper included.

We departed for KL on a 4.30pm flight on Saturday, arrived in KL at 5.30pm, took the KLIA Express to KL Sentral. From there we walked to Le Meridien where we got two rooms with an awesome city view, and then headed to Jalan Alor for dinner.

The luxurious beds at Le Meridien all to themselves. They say 'yay' and I say 'yay' too! No co-sleeping on this trip!

The luxurious beds at Le Meridien all to themselves. They said ‘yay’ and I said ‘yay’ too! No co-sleeping on this trip!

Walking down the food street at Jalan Alor

Walking down the food street at Jalan Alor

Our dinner consisting of chicken wings, satay, oyster omelette, carrot cake, char kway teow, beer (for the adults) and juice (for the young 'uns)

Our dinner consisting of chicken wings, satay, oyster omelette, carrot cake, char kway teow, beer (for the adults) and juice (for the young ‘uns) – awesomely yummy!

Back at the hotel room late at night, my husband sprang me a birthday surprise, and the kids and I were on an all-time high. They soaked in the warm water in the tub. The adults soaked in the city’s night view from the hotel window. By the time we crashed, it was close to midnight.

Happy birthday (again), this time from the hotel staff at Le Meridien, planned by Fatherkao

Happy birthday (again), this time from the hotel staff at Le Meridien, planned by Fatherkao

The next morning, we checked out and took a taxi to Seremban to meet with family, had lunch, and was back at the KL airport by 3pm, and back in Singapore – 3 hours later.

This was Restoran Xin Kai where we had great bak kut teh!

This was Restoran Xin Kai Xin in Seremban where we had great bak kut teh!

All with one big duffel bag and a huge dose of a sense of adventure.

Were we tired? Not at all. We were adrenaline-charged by this sudden burst of spontaneity.

For the kids, it was all about new sights and sounds, and non-stop eating.

For the husband and I, it was all about holding hands, which we haven’t done for the longest time.

For the family, it was all about experiencing a foreign land together and filling one memory page at a time, moving around from place to place and taking a flight together, watching the clouds and sunsets and pretending we were cruising through a billowing sea of cotton candy.

Any time spent with family is good time, and I am glad for this spontaneous family getaway

Any time spent with family is good time, and I am glad for this spontaneous family getaway

We would do this again in a heartbeat, this crazy spontaneous!


Cherish the special moments you have with your children. Share your very own spontaneous #FrisoMoment at and stand to win a host of amazing prizes, courtesy of Friso Singapore.

Here are the mechanics:

How to participate

Submit a photo of you and your child sharing a special experience. You may submit 1 experience each week. Each photo submitted will earn you two instant rewards – A Friso Experience journal and a Friso voucher worth $5, $10 or $20. Friso Singapore will also select and print one photo in 4R size with a Friso frame and send it to you.

You will be eligible for weekly and grand prizes if you agree to display your image in the gallery to inspire other parents.

  • Instant prizes: Friso Experiences Journal + Friso Voucher will be awarded to every entry.
  • Weekly Prize: The best photos will be selected to win the weekly prize. If you didn’t win in the first week, you will still be eligible for the weekly prizes in the remaining weeks of the month.

Week 1 to 2 (7 Mar – 23 Mar) 8 x FujiFilm Instax Mini 8

Week 3: 5 x Rebel Kidz Retro Racer Balance Bike

Week 4: 5 x Annual Zoo membership [2 adults + 2 Child]

Week 5: 5 x GOPRO Hero Camera

Week 6: 3 x Port of Lost Wonders party package

Week 7: 5 x Fujifilm Instax Share Printer

  • Grand Prize: A year’s supply of Friso milk.

One winner in April will be selected from the top 25 most voted entries for the month.  You may vote once per day for each entry. Remember to include the hashtag #FrisoMoment on your IG and FB posts!


Disclosure: This post was brought to you by Friso Singapore. Friso Singapore has invited Motherkao to share her #FrisoMoment to inspire parents to experience MORE with their children.

All this blog's PR Stuff Family life as we know it Happy days Milestones and growing up Motherkao loves... The Kao Kids

Getting matched in matchy ways this CNY

January 20, 2015

My husband and I have NEVER worn anything matching. Ever.

Too corny. Too cheesy. Too gaudy. Too attention seeking. Is what we say to ourselves.

Until this year. Where we did this.

Midouceur Kao Family Shoot 1Midouceur Kao Family Shoot 2Midouceur Kao Family Shoot 6Midouceur Kao Family Shoot 5Midouceur Kao Family Shoot 4Midouceur Kao Family Shoot 3

Yes, go matchy matchy on ourselves, together with the kids. We decided we only live once, our children are only young once, and soon enough they are going to be declaring their own fashion manifesto which we probably have no control over. So we modelled for MidouCeur, just for the fun of it.

Ok, now you know what we’ll probably be turning up in at visitations during Chinese New Year.  If we catch your attention, remember to say hi!

Photo Source: Midouceur

Photo Source: Midouceur

You can see the entire collection we modelled for, here at MidouCeur’s website.

From now till 22 January 2015, enter the promo code CNY8off to get 8% discount off at MidouCeur for purchases above SGD100 net. If sizing and fit is always a big question mark for you, MidouCeur will be having a pop-up stall for 2 days on 24 & 25 January 2015 from 10am to 9pm at Chinatown Bazaar. Connect with them on their Facebook page  or IG account to get updated details of the location and other collections.

Disclosure: We received 2 family sets of 2 designs from MidouCeur for helping them out in this modelling shoot. For details of sizing, please contact MidouCeur direct. All opinions here are our own, and are not in any way representative of anyone else. We’ve changed our mind about wearing couple / family / matching clothes. You’ll see us turn up all matched this CNY, yes, you will!

All this blog's PR Stuff Fatherkao loves... Food, glorious food! Going Out! Motherkao loves... Reviews The Kao Kids

Stealthy, steady success for a 40th birthday bash – Part 2

August 20, 2014

So the husband turned 40 earlier this August, and was given total VIP treatment by me, the kids and the good people at Crowne Plaza Changi Airport.

And because Changi Airport, particularly Terminal 3, is our family’s favouritest place in this country, it was especially special for us to be celebrating Fatherkao’s birthday there, staycating at one of the ‘World’s Top Ten Airport Hotels’.

From my stealth liaising a month before the birthday surprise to the day we checked out, my family was warmly hosted at Crowne Plaza. The Marketing Manager was fully attentive to the needs of our family of five as she arranged for us to check into the 36-square-metres Deluxe Twin Club Room with an extra rollaway bed so we could all sleep comfortably. And when she learned that the entire staycation would be a surprise birthday celebration for Fatherkao, she gamely offered to place a cake in the room so I didn’t have to run around the airport with kids in tow to hunt for one prior to checking in.

Crowne Plaza Deluxe Twin Room: Two little people are getting comfortable!

The Crowne Plaza Deluxe Twin Room: two little people are getting comfortable!

Checking out the room, and lazing on the rollaway bed

Checking out the room, and lazing on the rollaway bed

The glass panelled bathroom! And so we thought we'd be in full view of everyone when we shower, until we found blinds!

The glass panelled bathroom! And so we thought we’d be in full view of everyone when we shower, until we found the blinds!

I did nothing but turn up, check in, blow the balloons and light the candles with the kids to create some party atmosphere for the birthday boy.

This was special delivery, arranged by the Marketing Manager, who thought it'd be nice to have a cake at check in

This was special delivery, arranged by the Marketing Manager, who thought it’d be nice to have a cake at check in. The Lobby Lounge has one of the best cake selections, in my opinion. Because this cake was absolute heaven.

We were also given exclusive Club Lounge Access, and there, the kids got juice, the adults had coffee, and we all spent a lovely afternoon together after the cake-cutting, watching Fatherkao teach Ben how to play a game a chess.

Ready to lounge!

Ready to lounge!

First, some chess. Then, some juice!

First, some chess. Then, some juice!

The Club Lounge at Crowne Plaza Hotel Changi Airport was such a respite. At the lounge, we could look out and see the bustling city traffic on one side and a calming rainforest pool view on the other. The best part of it was, we had the place largely to ourselves.

City view from the Club window

City view from the Club window

Pool view from the Club window

Pool view from the Club window

We checked out the pool after we were done with our lounging, and I must say, I haven’t seen so much open space for a while in concrete jungle Singapore.

A pool with a view

A pool with a view when you look out and up

I’ve never swam in a pool like this, amidst lush greenery and wooden sun decks. It was like being in an island resort while in a city. I loved the space I could look out to, and the planes I could look up at. The kids enjoyed exploring the pool in their floats, although the water was extremely cold and being in it made our teeth chatter so much we had to head to the bathtub in the room immediately after for a warm soak.

I think the kids had the most fun being in the bathtub in full view of us looking in from the room on our beds. Give these kids warm water any time. They haven’t learned to swim yet so they’d much prefer the safety of the tub.

Before dinner we headed to the Club Lounge again, which was on the same floor as our room and the pool – and oh how so convenient to just pop by whenever we wanted – to enjoy evening cocktails, mocktails and canapés. I loved that at 5.30pm when we were there, there was absolutely no one (the hotel folks say the tourists usually head out to town and weekends are quieter than weekdays). We had the entire lounge to ourselves, and were given such royal treatment, getting served drinks of our choice, snacks and then getting our photos taken.

Oh the spread of canapes! This was like dinner for me!

Oh the spread of canapés! This was like dinner for us already!

We sneaked out while the littlest was napping to have some snacks and drinks

We sneaked out while the littlest was napping to have some snacks and drinks

I had a mocktail, he had a Singapore Sling!

I had a mocktail, he had a Singapore Sling!

Can you tell? The birthday boy was one happy camper, and was savouring every minute of his 40th birthday.

Later in the evening, we were hosted by Azur, the award-winning restaurant at Level 2 in Crowne Plaza for Fatherkao’s birthday dinner, and had some of his closest buds join us for more celebration over food, wine and laughs. At the restaurant, we talked and laughed over a good buffet spread of Eastern and Western cuisines – something which we haven’t done so with our friends for a while.

And what an even more pleasant surprise to find that there was yet another surprise for the birthday boy with yet another birthday song and cake.

Everyone's really making sure the birthday boy realises he is 40!

Everyone’s really making sure somebody realises he is 40!

Fatherkao was more than happy to be eating cake again. Not before he tried to clean off the zero in the ‘40‘ which was piped on his plate.

So he cleaned off the zero, and wished he was 4 instead

So he cleaned off the zero, and wished he was 4 instead

Still in denial, this man.

After dinner, the men continued with more wine and talk, while their wives and kids lazed in the cosy hotel room. Nothing would have pleased my husband more than this: to be able to enjoy good wine with his buddies whom he has known for decades and to cheers to more good years ahead.

The best things in life: food, friends and family

The best things in life: food, friends and family

Someone once said, “Men are like wine – some turn to vinegar but the best improve with age.” I certainly married someone that’s turning into fine wine at 40.

You’re not old, dear. You’re just mature. 


Thank you, everyone that came to make Fatherkao’s day, and Crowne Plaza Hotel Changi Airport, for your hospitality and impeccable service. You’ve made this birthday really special and have set the standard for all the other staycations to come, because Fatherkao says it’s the best one he’s had so far. We’ve done A LOT of staycations since 2004, and if he says so, you’re truly something!


Disclosure: Crowne Plaza Hotel Changi Airport sponsored our 2D1N staycation-and-birthday-celebration for Fatherkao, and hosted us at Azur for dinner. We had exclusive access to the Crowne Plaza Club, and had our breakfast there the next day as well. I did not receive any monetary compensation, and this post was a result of the wonderful experience we’ve had celebrating a milestone and being pampered silly. This may be the most unlikely place to consider having a staycation, but I tell you – the SPACE you get! Being away from the crowd and having such exclusivity is totally worth it, if you’re someone like me who is tired of too many malls, too many people and  too much noise.

This was our breakfast at the Club Lounge - we had the place all to ourselves on a beautiful Sunday morning

This was our breakfast at the Club Lounge – we had the place all to ourselves on a beautiful Sunday morning

Entrance to Crowne Plaza

The entrance to Crowne Plaza

More details:

Crowne Plaza is connected to Changi Airport’s Terminal 3 via a seamless, air-conditioned link bridge that gives you easy access to the shops and F&B outlets that operate round-the-clock.

A 2D1N stay in a deluxe room on a weekend starts from SGD263 and includes breakfast. The deluxe rooms feature an ergonomic workspace, comfortable beds, ensuite bathroom with separate rainshower and bathtub, and free WiFi connection.

Overnight parking is available at the airport for SGD20.

All this blog's PR Stuff Fatherkao loves... Going Out! Happy days Motherkao loves... Reviews The Kao Kids

Stealthy, steady success for a 40th birthday bash – Part 1

August 19, 2014

Fatherkao at the Club Lounge

I’ve known this man for 14 years, and ever since he became my husband 10 years ago, I have never kept a secret from him.

Not until I had to plan a birthday surprise for him this year.

Fatherkao was getting all pensive and in a totally reflective state about turning 40 (and the worst hit came when he received the letter for Eldershield, hurhurhur), and I’d thought that a birthday party was in order to turn turning 40 into an occasion to celebrate.

I started a secret whatsapp chat with all his buddies (who incidentally have also turned 40 a few years ago) and amidst jokes that they would all be getting him Salonpas Pain Relief Patches for his birthday present, they all agreed to come and spend the day with him because there was nothing he would appreciate more than good company and wine. I changed the passcode to my phone and operated completely by stealth to liaise with the wonderful folks at Crowne Plaza Changi Airport who were so extremely kind and generous to host us for a staycation and dinner. I packed everything for the stay, including his, only on that morning of the staycation day itself (while Fatherkao was out) and told him that I’ll be whisking him away for a holiday – and so he had to meet me and the kids at the airport.

Our plan that day was to check into the hotel room before meeting him, prep the room with balloons, and take him there to surprise him with cake.

I knew he knew the impossibility of me taking him away for a holiday by plane even though his birthday fell on a Saturday, and I was sure he even suspected that we were heading for a staycation, but I was glad he played along any way when I asked him to meet me at T3. He loves the airport, and since Terminal 3 has always been our favourite place to hang out as a family he had nary a grumble when I told him we’ve missed the plane and lunch at Pasta Mania would be his birthday treat instead.

And then when lunch was over, I told him we would be heading to the hotel lounge at Crowne Plaza Changi Airport for desserts (the first time I lied so blatantly in front of the kids who have already checked in with me way before lunch, blew up balloons and prepped the place). The kids and I were doing our best to keep the secret of a staycation in, although the excitement was already building up to such a level we could hardly contain it! Fatherkao kept asking the kids what was going to happen, and they were so game to play along by telling him it’s all a secret.

Until I gave the secret away. Unknowingly.

We walked past Bata at B2 on our way to Crowne Plaza and Becks asked when I was getting her the pair of princess shoes she’s been wanting to buy, and I said, “Tomorrow, k? Let’s buy it tomorrow.”

Fatherkao turned to me, and asked with a grin, “So… staycation, right? Cos’ tomorrow we’re coming back here to buy shoes.”


Still, with the secret out, we managed to give him a really pleasant surprise by bringing him to the hotel room, getting him to walk in with his eyes closed, and having the loveliest raspberry and chocolate mousse cake ever together – oh, the decadence!

Despite my slip, it was still a big surprise for the big boy who blew out four big candles on his big four-o.


Blowing out the candles

Cutting the cake

Decadent raspberry chocolate mousse cake

Fatherkao and the Kao kids

The secret’s out, you’re 40, happy birthday, my love!


More about our awesome birthday celebration and staycation at Crowne Plaza Changi Airport in Part 2 here, and why this staycation has set the standard for all the others to come.

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

Imagining a LEGOverse

August 13, 2014

I have a LEGO-obsessed firstborn.

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

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

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

Too funny for words, it often is.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yay, 'Special Time' at last!

Yay, ‘Special Time’ at last!

LEGO Building Time_6

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

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

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

Sort...Make space...

Ready? Sort…Make space…And go!

...And build!

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

Click, click, click

Click, click, click!

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

I need bigger hands for precision and sliding parts in

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

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

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

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

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

We’ve finished!

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

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

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

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

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

Absorbed in LEGOverse

Absorbed in LEGOverse

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

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

And then invite him to play and imagine some more.


This post originally appeared here on

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Police force

July 3, 2014

Five is the age of policing. I am so convinced it is. At least that’s the case for my son.

Ben has a strong sense of justice and a constant need to know if something is right or wrong. He tattles, quite often, but doesn’t do it just so his siblings get in trouble. More often, he does it because he needs to know from the adult if a behaviour or an action is acceptable or not.

Which means he takes on the role of the moral policeman in the house.

“Becks, you need to say ‘Please’ when you need something. I want to hear it before I do it for you. C’mon.”

“Nat, this is wrong. You need to say ‘sorry’. Go and say that to Mama now.”

“Mama, do not check your phone in the car. No reading in a moving vehicle, remember?”

“If it’s wrong for me to say ‘idiot’, why does Dada call some drivers ‘idiot’ when he drives? Dada should not do that.”

“Aunty A, please pronounce properly. It’s ‘prawn’,  not ‘frawn’. Say it correctly lah.”

As you can see, everyone in the house gets corrected by him all the time, almost every day. And he’s usually right 9 out of 10 times. His correction would often leave you embarrassingly speechless.

Just the other day, the police force in the house just said something that took the cake.

Ben: Mama, why is Becks so lucky?

Me: Why is she lucky?

For the record, I dislike that word. We never use it and it was the previous helper that taught him that. We tell our children it’s always God’s grace, never luck. So you can imagine the annoyance in my tone when I asked him why.

Ben: Good things always happen to her.

Me: Really? What good things have happened?

Ben: The good thing that happened to her is me. She’s so lucky to have an older brother who do everything for her. I help her, give in to her, pack for her. She can throw tantrums but I will just help her still. Aiyo... this is lucky what.

Me: *speechless*

I really didn’t know what else to say. You’re talking about me, Motherkao, Ben’s mother, who must have the last word.

See? We have the force right here, always checking to see who’s good and bad, who’s naughty and nice. There, my five-year-old for you.


That night I related the conversation to the husband, who, after hearing about it advised me to pay more attention to the children’s emotional needs. He saw what I didn’t. He saw that Ben in his policing was seeking our approval. It was clear to Fatherkao that Ben needed to know that we would always approve of him.

Just at that moment, Ben interrupted our conversation in the bedroom by coming in to tattle on his sister. Like I mentioned, I don’t think his intention was for us to head out to discipline her. He came and told us something she did which was not right, along the lines of her leaving her seat before her dinner was finished.

The response Fatherkao had and the subsequent exchange between father and son was pretty amazing. This was it:

Fatherkao: Ben, I don’t need to know that. I want you to tell me or show me what’s important to you.

Ben: Ok, Dada.

And my five-year-old proceeded to do a forward roll to show his father, and they all had a good belly laugh on the bed.

So. The moral of the story. The moral police in the house stops policing and starts behaving like the five-year-old he ought to be the moment he knows that he is loved and approved by the two most important people in his life. In all that he was doing, pointing out people’s mistakes and wanting to know what’s right and wrong, he was crying out for us to look at him, hold him and affirm him.


Motherhood has such thrills, isn’t it? It’s a steep learning curve but you learn so much. Your children teach you to love, how to love, and how to be more human every day. At least that’s the case for me.

Ben the Just

Ben, you teach me more than you can imagine. It’s really my honour and a privilege to be your mother, sweetheart.