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Clicking and creating – Miclik construction fun [Review]

April 11, 2016

The kids love to build. They love to build and demolish; and then build and build and build some more. We’ve amassed a whole lot of building toys from blocks to Lego bricks, including the Duplo, as well as Playmobil sets and a whole bunch of rods and magnetic balls for creating and constructing for hours on end.

As part of my work at Trehaus, I recently got to meet the youthful and enterprising people behind Explorer Junior. These folks take entrepreneurship to a whole new level – they started this enrichment enterprise wholly believing that every child is a curious explorer and unique in his own way. Their keen interest in early childhood led them to create programmes to engage little hands and minds in topics like science, history and current affairs. And they started this while being undergraduates in NUS. Woah. I was only looking for internships as an undergrad.

Talk about getting a headstart, these enthusiastic folks.

Clearly, I am already impressed! So when they approached me to review these construction toy called Miclik from Barcelona, I know my kids would be thrilled.

Miclik (5)

Other than its really hard to pronounce name, Miclik is a bundle and burst of colours. Every box comes with 48 connectors in four different colours. A girl like Becks was terribly excited to see construction toys come in hot pink at last and it made me very happy to see her beam and think that she could now at last create a world of princess possibilities.

And made she did:
Miclik (2)
Miclik (3)

Miclik (7)

The boys took their favourite colours – Ben yellow and Nat green – and created dragons that could fly and monsters, barricades and snakes. It’s funny how they threw the suggestions from the Miclik instruction booklet out of the window (not literally) and embarked in creating things long and beast-like.

Miclik (4)

Miclik (1)

Boys.

I found the Miclik plastic connectors a pleasure to hold and use. There are no sharp corners and every piece is of the same shape and size – a huge reprieve from all those Lego bricks I have been constantly stepping on and finding in odd corners. It’s easy to pack and keep, and perfect for an OCD mother to sort. However, I must say, it didn’t have as much mileage as the huge bag of unsorted Lego we have. The kids were a bit challenged after a while. Because the dragons and beasts need to be slayed by wizards and knights and they needed to go back to their Lego minifigures. And guess what happens when they open up their Lego bag? They forgot what they wanted to do with their Miclik creations.

Nonetheless, it was a pleasure building with Miclik. I guess the little girl had the most fun. At least until the pink pieces ran out.

Miclik is sold exclusively at Explorer Junior (here for more details) at SGD 49.90, and in my opinion, makes a great gift for birthdays and Christmas. It’s extremely kind for little hands that are 3- 6 years (and even older), especially if these hands are not ready for Lego yet. I hear too, that Miclik is designed and produced with the philosophy of being “respectful to the environment” and “safe and honest with the materials” in mind (source). Ok, more reasons to buy this as gifts, and for our little ones!

Now, for the GIVEAWAY!

The folks at Explorer Junior are giving away 3 boxes of Miclik to keep three pairs of little hands engaged and busy with building and creating! Participate in the giveaway through Rafflecopter here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Giveaway ends 30th April 2016 (12am).

Disclosure: We were given two sets of Miclik for the purpose of this review. All opinions here, especially on OCD, Lego constuction and a little girl’s preference are all my own.

All this blog's PR Stuff Becks Kao Everyday fun! Homelearning fun Learning fun! Reading fun Reviews

Hide and Seek Fun with Sam & Sally [A review + a giveaway!]

June 2, 2015

I am fighting a real battle limiting screen time these days. Everywhere there’s bombardment of the message – give your child an iPad! a smartphone! more TV! – and it’s hard to win the battle in this day and age with so many educational apps to download for free and the ever present temptation to chuck them a device to keep them quiet.

I confess. I forgot my activity book for Nat one of those days we were stuck waiting to be served at HDB (yes, we’ll be moving, but that’s for another day) and I had to give him my iPhone with the Bible stories app by Olive Tree. I was fascinated myself – the interaction, the graphics, the well-designed content – and it almost made me want to buy second hand iPads just to download the app for the kids’ bedtime stories.

But then I quickly chanted my personal mothering mantra: Let’s stick to the good ol’ and I was determined to banish that thought into the abyss forever.

I’m loving the folks at Scholastic Education because they totally understood my struggle. They’ve so kindly sent me the recently released new series of fun hidden puzzles for children, and I now have more activity books to keep my kids occupied while we wait at restaurants and during the children’s free time at home.

Sam and Sally are keeping my little Becks particularly thrilled, because colouring is her favourite thing right now. It’s making me thrilled too because I am getting her to recognise words to start her on her reading, and these books are coming in handy to help in the literacy bit. The series apparently aid in vocabulary building too since the puzzles are arranged by themes, and also help the child develop his spatial intelligence, since the reader has to be searching for the hidden items.

Here’s my little reviewer showing you how she bonds with Sam and Sally and not my iPad:

The 'Sam and Sally' Series come in a complete set of 3:

The ‘Sam and Sally’ Series come in a complete set of 3: Sam & Sally Go to School, Sam & Sally Out and About, and Sam & Sally at Home

Reading the words at the bottom of each page first...

Reading the words at the bottom of each page first…

Looking intently and pointing to each word

Looking intently and pointing to each word

Search and colour!

Search and colour!

Meeting Sam in his bedroom, and now, colouring the hidden items!

Meeting Sam in his bedroom, and now, colouring the hidden items!

I like that each book contains 28 picture puzzles and over 200 words, including a thoughtful challenge in each puzzle to encourage speaking and thinking. I like that even if I am not around to read the new vocabulary with my little girl, she is colouring on a page that’s print-rich. Most importantly, she’s exercising her ability to seek while the hidden puzzles hide, which could greatly aid in her spatial awareness.

It’s these things that my children should be investing their time in, and for their age, surely technological devices can wait.

And here’s a giveaway!

Scholastic continues to support teachers and parents as a trusted name in learning by remaining focused on encouraging children to learn to read and love to learn. The good folks are giving away ONE complete set of three Sam and Sally titles to one of Motherkao’s readers.

Simply launch the Rafflecopter app to qualify for chances in the draw:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

One winner will be selected by the Rafflecopter app after the giveaway ends on 10 June 2015 12:00AM. By taking part in the draw, you are also agreeing to collection of your prize (should you win) at the Scholastic Education office at 81 Ubi Ave 4, #02-28, UB. ONE, Singapore 408830.

Let’s say yay to more reading time and less screen time for our children!

Disclosure: Motherkao received a set of Sam and Sally series for the purpose of this review and giveaway. She did not receive any monetary compensation for this post. All opinions here are her own. Of course, please feel free to differ should you believe that screentime and engagement with devices are necessary for your child. Activity books are cheaper, actually.

Enrichment Learning fun! The Kao Kids

Rise & Expo: Giveaways, a discount code and more

August 13, 2014

The Rise & Shine Expo is back this year, and it’s promising to be bigger and even better, with double the size of 6,800 square metres as compared to last year’s and plenty of shopping fun, enrichment trials and entertainment.

R&S_A3 Disney Poster 08JUL

Rise & Shine 2014 is happening next weekend from 22 August to 24 August 2014 at Suntec Convention Hall 401 – 404, and just like last year, this is one event that can proudly claim to be the only parenting event in Singapore dedicated to nurturing our children holistically. We still have fond memories of drawing and colouring fish in “Colour My Feeling” last year, the first record-breaking colouring contest in Singapore, and spending a couple of hours visiting booths and meeting mascots.

Ben and Becks a year ago, at the Rise & Shine 'Colour My Feeling' Colouring Contest

Ben and Becks a year ago, at the Rise & Shine ‘Colour My Feeling’ Colouring Contest

Where I also got to judge entries from a different age category

Where I also got to judge and pick the winning entries from a different age category

Once again this year, we can all expect a fun funfair and lots of booths offering exclusive discounts on enrichment classes, preschool programmes, toys, books, children apparel, organic food products, as well as an enriching event packed with parenting workshops and trial classes for craft and cooking, sports, the performing arts, as well as literacy and academics offered throughout the weekend. There are also stage programmes and fun activities lined up for the kids too throughout the fair, so it looks set to be a weekend that’ll be meaningfully fun!

As Rise & Shine’s partner blogger, I’ve been given the privilege to:

  • Host 2 trial passes for 2 classes of my choice

—  I chose sports trials at Ready Steady Go Kids, a multi-sport and exercise programme (with 3 trial time slots to choose from) and Krav Maga Self Defense System, a practical self-defence system developed in Israel (with 6 trial classes to choose from)

— Usual price for a trial class: SGD10 + $50 worth of goodie bag

— Usual price SGD15 for single, SGD 20 for couple

So…

If you wish to utilise the discount, enter MOTHERKAO in the Promotional Code when you register for the 2 programmes I’ve chosen. The same promo code applies to the parenting workshop.

Or…

Participate in the giveaways here on this blog using the Rafflecopter App! (Ends 18 August, 12am)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

It’s going to be an exciting weekend for the young and old, so see you at the Rise & Shine Expo this year!

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

Gutsy enough for the Skyline Luge, and once is never enough!

July 23, 2014

There are a lot of things in Sentosa that we’ve not yet explored and tried. I don’t know why but I have this mental obstruction in my own head about my kids not being old enough, tall enough, brave enough.

Universal Studios? The kids are not going to be tall enough for the rides, old enough to remember the experience and brave enough to go on roller coasters.

Interact with dolphins? No matter how much they tell me they love animals, I bet they would chicken out the moment we’re in the pool.

The Sentosa Luge? Are you kidding? I bet everyone’s gonna start wailing the moment we head upwards on the cable-chair ride and koala hug me when we whizz downhill with the go-cart-like tub.

For that reason which exists in their mother’s head, Sentosa is only known as the pirate-ship place’ (Port of Lost Wonder), the beach, and the ‘nice hotel with sand in pool’ (we did a staycation at Festive and checked out the Hard Rock pool). For that reason also, every time we walk past this, we only go, Waaaa! So scary!

Siloso Beach - Overview of buildings and walkway

Photo credit: Sentosa Skyline Luge

Leisure and Business Brochure

Photo credit: Sentosa Skyline Luge

But this all changed one particular day during the June holidays. I got an invitation from the folks at Sentosa inviting our family to experience the new façade and streamlined facilities over at the Skyline Luge. I was told that they’ve done their most extensive upgrade ever to further enhance the Skyline Luge experience – which comprises a 320-metre chairlift via the Skyride and a 3-wheeled gravity ride via the Luge.

As usual, I automatically went, Nah, my kids are not old enough, tall enough, brave enough. 

But I soon realised that they were indeed old enough and tall enough. Children need to be over 85cm tall and accompanied by an adult, otherwise 135 cm tall to ride alone for the Skyride; and riders need to be at least 110cm tall to ride on their own, otherwise they need to ride tandem with an adult. Which means of the three of my mental ‘not…enough’s, only ‘not brave enough’ has yet to be tested.

Well, for the record, that evening, the Kao Kids – all three of them – were brave enough for the Skyride and the Luge! In fact, true to its tagline ‘Once is Never Enough’, they couldn’t stop!

Sentosa Skyline Luge_3

The Skyline Luge is between Imbiah Lookout and Siloso Beach, and has just undergone a façade lift

Sentosa Skyline Luge_1

And so they’re ready to ride! Ben is looking small in an adult’s body – hurhurhur!

Sentosa Skyline Luge_2

My three BRAVE kids!

We went up the chairlift FIVE TIMES, and taking turns to tandem each one of them down the Luge FIVE TIMES. And even after the fifth, they were screaming, “Moar, moar, moar!” No one wailed, no one koala hugged me, no one said “I’m too scared. I’ll pass.”

These pictures will tell the rest of the story:

Sentosa Skyline Luge_4

These were taken on the Skyride

Sentosa Skyline Luge_5

The view from above

Sentosa Skyline Luge_6

Pictures courtesy of Skyline Luge’s camera

Sentosa Skyline Luge_8

As you can see, we’re ready to ride, even if it meant that the helmet was too huge for someone!

Sentosa Skyline Luge_7

We went ‘weee, weee, weee!’ down and it was fun, fun, fun!

Sentosa Skyline Luge_9

Thumbs up: we’re tall enough, old enough, brave enough, and once is NEVER enough!

More details:

With 9.24 million riders and counting, the Skyline Luge has embarked on its most extensive upgrade to further enhance its attraction offerings to both tourists and locals alike. Some of the facilities include an upgraded jungle track, more photo counters, handicap-friendly layout and more ticketing counters.

The Skyline Luge is between Imbiah Lookout and Siloso Beach. The nearest car park is the Beach Carpark.

Opening hours: 10 am to 9.30 pm daily

Ticketing charges are as follows: (tickets are only valid on the date of purchase)

1) Individual deals: 1 Luge & 1 Skyride SGD15/pax, 3 Luge & 3 Skyrides SGD23/pax, 5 Luge & 5 Skyrides SGD33/rax

2) Family deals: 4 rides Family Pass* SGD39, 8 rides SGD 59, 10 rides SGD69. Child-doubling at SGD3 per ride.

*A family pass is for 2 adults and maximum 3 children. The rides can also be shared among the members.

3) Skyride only: 1-way SGD10/pax, 2-way SGD15/pax, Unlimited SGD17/pax

***

Ok, I’ll take your questions now…

Scary or not?

The first time up the chairlift and the first time down the Luge was kind of. Strongly advise those with vertigo or motion sickness to stay clear of it. Otherwise, if it’s just a little fear of heights that’s holding you back, I’ll say, Don’t be afraid! It’s really an exhilarating feeling and a thrilling experience through and through.

Can you control how fast you go on the Luge? Can I go really slow?

The Luge has got a totally idiot-proof brake and steer system and is definitely something you can control. But I don’t think you want to go too slow down slope. *yawn*

How long, distance-wise, is the Luge trail?

You can choose to take the 688-metre Dragon trail or the 628-metre Jungle trail. How long, you ask? Not long enough, in my opinion!

The closing hour is 9.30pm! At night can see? Won’t langgar?

When we were there, we were done close to 8pm. It was dark. BUT the darkness and the flashing lights made for a totally new experience! Won’t langgar for sure – cos the trails are all well-lit! We were so delighted to have been able to witness the sunset while on the Skyride too that evening.

So brightly lit, you won't langgar!

RGB LED Lights: So brightly lit, you won’t langgar, confirmed!

Were your children safely tucked in the chairlift? It feels and looks so bare.

True that. There are no buckles and lots of pockets of spaces for a leg or hand to slip in. Make sure you bring a kid that will listen to instructions and follow them! The folks managing the queues at the Skyride will help you seat the younger ones while you get on (because the Skyride chairlifts actually don’t stop moving) and they will make sure you’re seated before a huge latch securely fastens everyone. Also, it’s a bad idea to wear slippers. My helper did and she was constantly fearing that they may drop. Good thing I made the kids wear shoes!

If you have to be securely fastened on the Skyride and then maneuver the Luge manually, how to take selfies or wefies?

Big phones may drop off if they can’t be tucked tight in pockets, so be warned. Mine almost fell a few times because I tried to be hero – I stretched my hand out to take pictures of the kids but also wanted to hold their hands at the same time. Best thing to do: sling a compact camera. If not, they have cameras installed everywhere with signs telling you to ‘Look Ahead and Smile’. You can always purchase them at the counters after you’re done with your rides.

How long is the Skyride? What if it stalls mid air?

It takes about 10 minutes to reach the top. But it’s also dependent on how crowded and how long you have to queue. If you want priority to skip queues, get their membership packages.

The Skyline Luge has won many awards, including the “Travellers’ Choice Award” by Trip Advisor in 2013. It has had zero accidents thus far and no incidents of stalling. Our chairlift did stop for a few seconds those five times we were up – and I guess that might have been to regulate the flow of chairlifts moving. We just took those few seconds as our opportunity to take in the scenic view!

Any problems with the kids riding tandem with you?

Absolutely none. They loved it. The only problem we had was that nobody wanted to double with the helper. We have 3 kids and they wanted to all go tandem with Mom or Dad instead!

Wow, sounds like fun! Any other tips?

Have a light snack before you go, cos’ if you buy, say 5 rides, it’s gonna take a while including the queuing and all. Evening is the best time to go cos’ it’s cool and you can admire the sunset view on the Skyride. AND… bring your own helmets if you have them! Those provided were soaked with perspiration, not to mention quite smelly! Plus, there was none fitting for a small head like Nat’s. If we had known, we would have brought our bike helmets. If you don’t have one, bring a shower cap so your hair stays dry and smelling nice!

***

And now, for the GIVEAWAY!

The kind folks at Sentosa are giving away 3 x Family Passes (for 4 rides)* to 3 readers of this blog!

*A family pass is for 2 adults and maximum 3 children. The pass up for grabs is for a family to go for four Skyrides and four Luge rides.* 

Simply log in with your email or FB using the Rafflecopter app to stand a chance to win in the random draw!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway ends 29 July 2014 (12 am).

Disclosure: I didn’t get paid to write this post but we had complimentary tickets to experience the Skyline Luge. All opinions are mine and I will not be held responsible for suggestions and tips I’ve given in my Q&A. Suggestions, mine. Guts, yours.

All this blog's PR Stuff Food, glorious food! Happy days Motherkao loves... Reviews

So fine, yet so casual [Review of E’spuma Lab]

July 22, 2014

The husband and I are huge fans of Top Chef and Masterchef. We watch the programmes to get inspiration for our cooking, and eating, of course.

Because we catch the various seasons of these programmes quite regularly, food looking like this…

Wild duck and wild apples

Photo source

And chefs using this odd-looking cannister to pump out foam like this…

iSi Whipper

Photo source

…are not sights uncommon to us. Just that we’ve never had the opportunity to try food cooked this way, or have them plated like such and put on our tables.

Then our chance came one Saturday ago.

We were invited by E’spuma Lab, a new casual diner that aims to bring innovative culinary techniques like espuma and sous vide out of Michelin-star restaurants and into the casual dining scene in Singapore at wallet-friendly prices. I was informed that all the dishes for the tasting session would be foamed, espuma-style and that every item on the menu would be something that would fill me up and satisfy children and adults alike. I have seen chefs on TV making sauces and desserts using the steel-like cannister (which is called the espuma siphon, I later found out) and was genuinely curious how anything prepared by this technique would taste like.

Most of all, I wanted to see how cooking techniques so atas would finally be revealed and prepared to be tasted by commoners like me and my family.

For the uninitiated, espuma is Spanish for foam or froth, and is a culinary technique in which an espuma siphon is used to infuse air into the food, creating an airily light texture. This technique adds a very interesting dimension to natural ingredients, especially those that have been mashed, pureed or juiced.

Sous vide is a culinary technique in which food is cooked in a vacuum at a constant temperature, using a thermal circulator. This technique ensures perfectly cooked eggs and evenly cooked meat.

So this, ladies and gents, this was the food plated and prepared for us that evening. But atas no more, I tell you, because E’spuma Lab’s sole mission is to make haute cuisine totally accessible and affordable to people like you – and me.

Why I am not a food blogger: The first dish that came was this -Sautéed Mushrooms with Espuma Potato Foam (SGD6.80) - and I started feeding hungry kids. Photo credit: E'spuma Lab

Why I am not a food blogger: The first dish that came was this -Sautéed Mushrooms with Espuma Potato Foam (SGD6.80) – and I started feeding hungry kids.
Photo credit: E’spuma Lab

And this was the 2nd - Curry Chicken with E'spuma Potato Foam (SGD6.80) - and I started feeding myself. Photo credit: E'spuma Lab

And this was the 2nd dish to arrive – Curry Chicken with E’spuma Potato Foam (SGD6.80) – and I started feeding myself.
Photo credit: E’spuma Lab

Then the Sous Vide Eggs with Smoked Salmon and Fried Salmon Skin (SGD3.80) came and the son, who loves eggs, devoured the whole thing. Photo credit: E'spuma Lab

Then the Sous Vide Eggs with Smoked Salmon and Fried Salmon Skin (SGD3.80) came and the son, who loves eggs, devoured the whole thing.
Photo credit: E’spuma Lab

Spaghetti with Swedish meatballs and E'spuma Caramelised Onion Sauce

Then more mains came, and at this point, I was yelling, ‘Stop! I need photos first!’ Spaghetti with Swedish meatballs and E’spuma Caramelised Onion Sauce (SGD6.80)

Spaghetti with Chicken Cutlet and E'spuma Bacon Sauce (SGD6.80)

Spaghetti with Chicken Cutlet and E’spuma Bacon Sauce (SGD6.80)

Fragrant Rice with Pan Seared Sous Vide Chicken Breast and E'spuma Pesto Sauce

Fragrant Rice with Pan Seared Sous Vide Chicken Breast and E’spuma Pesto Sauce

Fragrant Rice with Cajun Chicken Leg and E'spuma Curry Sauce

Fragrant Rice with Cajun Chicken Leg and E’spuma Curry Sauce

Oh, happiness!

I hear there’s also espuma-ed mushroom soup, espuma battered fish and chips and new items on the menu every time Chef gets inspiration! Happy times, people, these are happy times.

And believe me, that evening I was really happy. Really, really happy. I loved everything I tasted, and I am not saying this just because I got a free meal. I would gladly pay every cent (and maybe more) for whatever I ate (and they were really priced reasonably – just look at each portion and respective price!) I especially loved, loved, loved the curry chicken dish; it was so light and satisfying. There was absolutely no flavour overdose (also known as jelat, in localspeak) because the curry foam was so airily delightful. Every sauce that came espuma-ed was a hit with the kids, Fatherkao and me.

No cloying texture, no starchy heaviness. Only pure foam heaven.

And just so you know, for our desserts we had durian fritters – which were so not-oily that you could pop a whole bunch in your mouth and have a good loud durian burp at the end of it.

E'spuma Batter D24 Durian Fritters (SGD3.80)

E’spuma Batter D24 Durian Fritters (SGD3.80)

As we did.

You can pop these fritters in and not feel that they are oily or cloyingly sweet at all!

You can pop these fritters in and not feel that they are oily or cloyingly sweet at all!

Now I can finally tell myself that I’ve come close to what the judges were tasting in Top Chef and Masterchef. Take that, Padma Lakshmi. By the way, just so you know, Chef Teo Yeow Siang, the brain behind E’spuma’s innovative dishes, has 13 years of experience and has won many international awards; so technically he’s better than any Top Chef alum any time. I’m wishing that E’spuma Lab would expand their operations soon and be found in a mall near me. Good on the working crowd for now, since it’s the only one and only at Pomo Mall (formerly Paradiz Centre at Selegie Road) but if I’m there and need a meal, I wouldn’t even need to think once.

We checked out the humble kitchen with sophisticated equipment (the espuma siphons and sous vide cooker) and were touched that this is a place with heart. No trade secrets, no airs. Just good food at really low prices for all.

We checked out the humble kitchen with sophisticated equipment (the espuma siphons and sous vide cooker) and were touched that this is a place with heart. No trade secrets, no airs. Just good food at really low prices for all.

More details:

E’spuma Lab is at 1 Selegie Road, Pomo Mall, #01-20/21 Singapore 1883306.

Opening hours: Monday – Saturday 11am to 9pm

Contact number: 8222 1113 (Why need contact number huh, you ask. Because if you are near, you can cater! Durian fritters to go!)

… … … …

And just so you get to try what I did, I’m giving away my $10 voucher (yes, the one which the folks gave me in my press kit) to you so you can go check out E’spuma Lab! (FYI, their set meals cost only $8.80!)

If you want to win it, simply LIKE E’spuma’s Facebook Page and leave a comment on this blog post telling me what you might like to try!

Giveaway ends 30 July 2014. I’ll mail the voucher to the winner after the random draw!

Winner announcement: CONGRATS to Samantha! The list randomiser picked you and you’ll be eating at E’spuma Lab soon!

Espuma winner

Disclosure: My family and I were invited by E’spuma Lab for a food tasting session. No monetary compensation was received for this post and all opinions here are my own, with input from the big and little tasters. 

UPDATE AS OF 22 OCT 2015: I was told that they’ve since ceased operations at POMO. Which makes me very sad. So very, very sad.

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

We rose, shone, and are smelling REALLY good

June 25, 2014

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

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

R&S_Carnival fun

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

R&S_Fishing

Building blocks…

R&S_Building blocks

And throwing eggs…

R&S_Throwing eggs

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

JBaby Active Fresh Product Display 2

JBaby Active Fresh Product Display 1

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

Foot reflex for free

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

Rained out

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

***

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

This needs some testing, I say.

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

Fine weather for play

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

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

Testing 1

Testing 2 - Copy

Testing 3

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

Pro tester with steps

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

Testing 4

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

Play at Kids Club

More active play at Kids Club

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

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

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

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

Bubble bath

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

***

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

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

All this blog's PR Stuff Fatherkao loves... Food, glorious food! Happy days The Kao Kids

Any time’s a good time to eat cake! – An early Father’s Day celebration courtesy of Emicakes

June 4, 2014

The kids were up to something last week. I told them a cake would be delivered for their father so we could celebrate Father’s Day (which falls on 15 June this year) in advance, and they quickly got to work.

They took out crayons and paper, and started drawing furiously.

“To surprise Dada!” they said, and began to put on paper the messages they wish to convey to their father.

And when their father returned from work, we surprised him with this lovely cake from Emicakes…

Emicakes Father's Day Cake

And a wall plastered with three drawings.

Kids' drawings 1

Kids' drawings 2

And what made their father even more surprised was the fact that he sunk his teeth not into a typical vanilla or chocolate cake we are so used to having because of the kids but gorgeously light and heavenly tiramisu. I figured he deserves to be indulged this way and selected one of his favourite cake fillings for his sweet treat.

And the best part of Emicakes’ tiramisu? It’s non-alcoholic and suitable for children too. Just look at these happy faces.

With Dada

Happy faces

Ooh, the glorious Italian cheese cake dipped in Nescafé® and cream cheese is just perfect for all of us! This is cake happiness, all thanks to the generous people at Emicakes!

Tiramisu

And to share this cake happiness, Emicakes is giving away THREE 20-cm Daddy-bowler-hat-and-moustache cake (with fillings of your choice) to THREE readers of this blog to celebrate Daddy-Awesomeness! To participate in the giveaway, simply follow this to qualify:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway ends 8 June 2014. Winners will be announced on 9 June 2014.

You can also indulge Dad this Father’s Day! Get a 15% off all featured Father’s Day cakes by 11 June 2014 and enjoy some cake happiness this year with Dad! For more details, check out Emicakes’ website or FB page.

Emicakes Promo

Disclosure: We were given a cake from Emicakes for the purpose of this review. No monetary compensation was received and opinions here are our own.

All this blog's PR Stuff Ben Kao Learning fun! Milestones and growing up Reading fun

Rainbow Bear’s Dinosaur Discovery by Julia Gabriel [Book Review + Giveaway]

May 29, 2014

Ben is now 5 and can read small chunks of text to entertain and educate himself. This makes me a happy mother because I can pass him a book and he’s pretty much engaged, which frees me to handle the other two who frequently need my attention.

If you pass him a book that interests him, that is.

A while ago, Julia Gabriel Education sent us this:

JGE_Dinosaur Discovery Book and CD Set

Rainbow Bear’s Dinosaur Discovery Book and CD set retails at SGD29.95

No surprise there who jumped for joy.

I very much left Ben on his own with the book while playing the audio. The book and CD set did three wonderful things for Ben. First, it reinforced whatever he’s learned for phonics at kindergarten; second it allowed him to read along with the CD and figure out challenging dinosaur names on his own without my help; and third, the beautifully illustrated book let him do a picture search for things relating to the various blends and digraphs on each page, which is something he enjoys very much.

JGE_Dinosaur Discovery_Ben reading 1

Listening attentively…

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

And while the younger ones could only be engaged for only a few minutes with their shorter attention span, this boy sat in the living room for quite a while enjoying the story.

He loves picture hunts and this is keeping him really focused

He loves picture hunts and this is keeping him really focused

The book got him excited about dinosaurs again. It even has fun facts about the 24 prehistoric animals mentioned in the pages (and I actually thought the names were all made up but I was so wrong!) – which is really good fuel for his imagination and value-adds to his reading. The audio is also great for reinforcing the correct pronunciation with the dinosaurs teaching him the most common sound of each digraph and blend.

If your kids love dinosaurs and are learning how to read, this book and CD set is a good resource to have as they journey towards fluent reading. Plus, the songs and tongue twisters are funny too!

And I have THREE sets of this to give away!

Julia Gabriel Education is giving away THREE sets of Rainbow Bear’s Dinosaur Discovery book + CD set to three of Motherkao’s readers, so you and your child can meet ’em all too!

To qualify for the random draw, simply do the following:

1) Leave me a comment here telling me who you’d like to win this for and what’s his/her favourite dinosaur 

2) LIKE Motherkao’s FB page if you haven’t done so

Remember to leave your name and email address! Giveaway closes on 5 June 2014.

And… WE HAVE OUR WINNERS!

Congrats to Joey, Ooy Yoan and Evan! We’ll be in touch, and I think some little ones would be really excited to meet the friendly dinosaurs in the book!

Dinosaur Discovery Winners

Disclosure: We were given the Dinosaur Discovery Book and CD Set from Julia Gabriel Education. No monetary compensation was received and all opinions here are our own.

All this blog's PR Stuff Happy days

It’s time to Rise & Shine! [+Carnival tickets giveaway]

May 25, 2014

Do you remember me inviting you for breakfast last year?

This year, I’m gonna be inviting you again. Wanna do breakfast with me and my kids?

To celebrate the International Year of the Family, Rise & Shine is once again organising the largest picnic event in Singapore at their Rise & Shine Breakfast Carnival. Except that this year, instead of setting the record for the largest ever breakfast picnic, we’ll be trying for the largest number of families making sandwiches together.

There will also be an exciting line-up of activities that families with children can look forward to, which includes sport trials, bike circuit races, bouncy castles, obstacle courses and fun activity booths for craft, face painting and cupcake decorating. I hear there would even be a foam party by Port of Lost Wonder!

Here are the details of the Carnival:

Rise & Shine Carnival Banner

You can get tickets NOW at an early bird rate at SGD13 per adult* which includes a SGD20 worth of Nutella Breakfast Kit. The first 1,000 sign ups will also receive a Rise & Shine limited edition goodie bag worth SGD50.

Tickets can be purchased at www.carnival.riseandshine-expo.com. The early bird registration closes 13 June 2014, 12pm. Thereafter, you may purchase your tickets on-site at SGD16.

*Child below 12 years old goes FREE!

Rise & Shine Carnival Poster

And just for Motherkao readers, I’ve got THREE PAIRS OF TICKETS to give to 3 readers!

To participate in this giveaway, leave me a comment here with your name and email address telling me WHAT KIND OF SANDWICH you would be bringing for breakfast! Giveaway closes 2 June 2014.

(It’s all part of my *evil* plan to go hunt you down and join you for the picnic. Hurhurhur.)

If you’re going to be there, please come say hi after you’ve laid your mats. We’ll be more than happy to share our sandwich (and have some of yours too)!

Disclosure: Motherkao is a partner blogger of Rise & Shine. We’ve been invited to the carnival for some family bonding time. No monetary compensation was received for this post. All sandwiches we’ll have on that morning are our own.

And the winners for the tickets to the Carnival are: Serena, Andrew Wong and Yvonne! Gonna have to go look for a family that’s got sandwiches of the tuna avocado, egg mayo, ham and  cheese and peanut butter & jelly kind!

Rise & Shine Carnival Tickets Winners

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

Pretty, sticky and lasting [Stickerkid review]

May 22, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

60 small stickers for each Kao kid from Stickerkid!

60 small stickers for each Kao kid from Stickerkid!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What a relief to have these !

What a relief to have these !

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

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

***

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

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