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Kao Kids

All this blog's PR Stuff Family life as we know it The Kao Kids

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

December 25, 2017

[Sponsored – this post is IKEA-inspired]

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

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

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

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

From IKEA: SKUBB Box with compartments

RAGGISAR stackable tray from IKEA

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

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

this…

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

and this…

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

 

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

Drawers transformation

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

VARIERA Box: 24x17cm

VARIERA Box: 10x12cm

GESSAN Box: 10x10x10cm

GODMORGON Box with led: Set of 5

GLIS Box with lid: 34x21cm

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

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

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

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

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

Ben’s drawer transformed

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

Nat’s drawer transformed

~~~

Study desk area transformation

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

GRUNDTAL Magnetic Knife Rack

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

~~~

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

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

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

~~~

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

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

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

December 24, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh gosh, how much they have grown.

Kao kids at Snow City, November 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Find time to just watch and listen to them

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

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

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

 

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

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

November 28, 2017

[Sponsored – this post is IKEA-inspired]

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

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

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

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

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

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

~~~

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

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

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

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

Step 1: Eggs and sugar gets beaten well

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

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

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

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

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

~~~

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

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

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

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

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

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

~~~

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

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

French toast for dinner, it is.

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

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

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

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

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

~~~

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

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

Thanksgiving dinner by kids, for the whole family.

We couldn’t wait to tuck in.

This Thanksgiving, our hearts and bellies were full.

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

And I gave thanks for that.

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

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

The sadness when you are done having babies

August 3, 2017

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

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

An overwhelming sense of sadness.

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s exhilarating and exasperating at the same time.

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

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

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

And this…

And these…

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

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

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

Goodbye, babies. Hello, big little people.

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

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

July 6, 2017

OS_Motherkao_review2017 (1) - Copy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For effortless combing

For effortless combing

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

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

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

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

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

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

~~~

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

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

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

June 3, 2017

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

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

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

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

Lazada Suprise Box_Motherkao Blog (35) - Copy

Lazada Suprise Box_Motherkao Blog (40) - Copy

Lazada Suprise Box_Motherkao Blog (45) - Copy

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

No surprises here, what my choice of category was.

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

Aveeno Baby Lightly Scented Natural Oat Extract Wash & Shampoo

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

Lazada Suprise Box_Motherkao Blog (55) - Copy

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

Blackmores Kids Fruity Fishies

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

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

Lazada Suprise Box_Motherkao Blog (67) - Copy

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

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

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

Bioglan Kids Smart Vita Gummies

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

Lazada Suprise Box_Motherkao Blog (68) - Copy

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

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

~~~

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

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

Happy shopping, this GSS!

~~~

More details:

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

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

 

Going Out! Happy days Holidays! The Kao Kids

London numbers

June 2, 2017

1 hour delay due to inclement weather.

13.5 hours on a full flight.

1 hour to clear customs.

15 minutes from the airport to Paddington Station.

 

Waiting for the Heathrow Express

Waiting for the Heathrow Express

London Dreaming_June 2017_Kaosgotravelling (2) - Copy

London Dreaming_June 2017_Kaosgotravelling (3) - Copy

 

 

Onboard the Heathrow Express

Onboard the Heathrow Express

Paddington!

Paddington!

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

7 hours behind in local time and severely jetlagged.

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

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

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

~~~

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

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

Hopefully, we will be returning with 5 hearts full.

 

Ben Kao Milestones and growing up Reviews

Going the Ortho-K way (Part I)

April 5, 2017

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

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

Which sucked. Big time.

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

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

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

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

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

This article calls it ‘braces for the eyes‘.

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

Sounds like something I want Ben to go through.

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

 

Eye examination to assess for clarity of sight

Eye examination to assess for clarity of sight

Getting his power determined

Getting his power determined

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

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

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Measuring his cornea

Checking the health of his cornea

Checking the health of his cornea

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

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

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

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

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

March 11, 2017

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

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

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

True story.

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

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

But I always had one serious problem: lighting.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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More details: 

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

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

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

Becks Kao Thunderstorm days

The mysterious case of losing weight

February 20, 2017

It’s been a really tough week on the home front.

I’m running on a full, almost 24/7 schedule of running the business – and just returned from Co-working Unconference Asia in Chiang Mai, when I received a few calls from unknown numbers on a Tuesday afternoon.

It was the primary school calling, telling me Becks threw up in class.

Ate something wrong, maybe. The girl’s been snacking like it’s the new diet as she discovers the awesome selections of the vending machine in school.

But to my horror after 14 hours from 12pm to 2am on that very day, she was still throwing up and not keeping anything down, and we knew we had to make that dreaded trip to the A&E at NUH.

Only to be discharged 4 hours later because she could at last keep a drink electrolytes down, and then – BUMMER! – to be admitted 7 hours after because she started complaining of stomach pains.

I missed my chatty, noisy, bossy girl: all quiet staring at the TV while the IV dripped on

I missed my chatty, noisy, bossy girl: all quiet staring at the TV while the IV dripped on

Nothing’s rougher than rough this week with the day she was warded being the roughest because — who gets any rest in the hospital?!

The toughest bit, actually, was being told by two doctors on two separate occasions  – one our PD, and the other her attending doc at the Children’s Ward – that her lack of weight gain was worrying them A LOT. She apparently only gained 1.5 kg over the last 3 years, or is it 1 kg over the last 2 years; but whatever it is, she is now skinny as bones, eating poorly and officially not growing well for the doctors to wave a red flag at our face.

And this puts us all in panic mode wondering what we could do.

I texted mom friends to ask for recommendations on supplements.

The husband started planning lunch box menus and *importantly* running the selections by the little girl. She brings the lunchbox for recess, but often has meltdowns when she sees what the helper has packed.

So far the buns, pasta and rice were hardly touched and even the helper is at a loss. So I found out she’s been only liking the muffins, grapes, tomatoes and Hello Panda.

We also started to like Tasty, Tasty Junior and Delish on Facebook to get ideas on what to make, so she puts in more in her mouth. Of course, we would need to wait for her to recover from the severe dehydration and low sugar count due to the horrible bout of stomach flu that gave the entire family zero rest this entire week, before we start our meal plans for her.

And I am now officially crowdsourcing for ideas, suggestions and recommendations. Please feel free to throw them my way.

Big thank you to all who saw my IG post and sent prayers our way. Of all things I covet most, I covet believers in Christ covering my children in prayer.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.