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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.

LED P1610 Polarizing Task Light - Copy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

Ben Kao Milestones and growing up

The reluctant specky boy

January 22, 2017

Both Ben and I were super bummed over the weekend.

By this:

BenKao_Eyecheckreport2017 (1)

BenKao_Eyecheckreport2017 (2)

MY FIRSTBORN NEEDS GLASSES!!!!!

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

Just like what my mom did to me.

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

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

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

And he was really disappointed too.

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

But why 6/18????

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

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

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

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

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

BenKao_Clipons - Copy

Yes, this NERDY.

 

(Self) Examination Family life as we know it Getting all sentimental now Milestones and growing up The Kao Kids

New challenges, new resolutions, new year!

January 20, 2017

Twentyseventeen.

It’s a new year – and we’ve made it here. I am grateful.

I’m grateful that this year, I have – in my brood – bigger, older, more sensible children. Children that I can reason with, confide in, talk to.

Children whom I’ve never imagine to be growing this tall and talking this much, and coming this far with me in this motherhood journey.

Children who love me as I am, whom I know can watch me grow old and still hold on to me.

Children whom I love, as they are; and whom I know that I can watch grow up and hold on dear to.

KaoKids_Dec2016

Tis‘ so true the saying; that in parenthood the days are long but the years are short, and I now have a 8-year-old, a 7-year-old and a 5-year-old this year. Instead of diapers to change and tiny hands to hold, I find myself having to do so different things.

Like sitting on the swing at night with my firstborn, talking about his hopes and dreams.

Like reading the little notes my little girl leaves on my desk, filled with hearts and words spelling out, “I love you, Mama.”

Like having my littlest call me over the phone, asking me, “How was your day, Mom?”

These littles have grown up, and this year, I resolve to do three things.

I resolve to disconnect to connect.

I resolve to eat right and live life a little more balanced, so I can be a healthier, mindful mom for them.

I resolve to work a little harder at making their dreams come true – if that would mean being more efficient, more effective and more excellent.

What have you resolved to do this year? How is this year looking like for you?

I hope twentyseventeen would be a great one!

Everyday fun! Learning fun! The Kao Kids

Whenever, waiting (not a case against gadgets)

December 25, 2016

I am a mom on a mission to keep the smart phones and the iPads away from my kids as much as possible, as long as possible.

Especially while we’re waiting.

I don’t think you need to give a child an iPhone or an iPad so he sits quietly while everyone waits for food / eats a decent meal/  has adult conversation.

Have you tried the following?

Whenever you anticipate waiting time…

  • Do copious amounts of reading (this is for now, only something that appeals to my firstborn)…

reading_kaokids1

reading_kaokids2

  • Bring lots of scrap paper and colour pens/markers/pencils and invite your kids to draw away…

drawing_kaokids1

drawing_kaokids2

  • Draw lots of randomness (you draw) and introduce some colouring therapy (the kids colour)…

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  • Buy activity books from book fairs / Bras Basah / Popular – I love those Preschooler Science booklets where the kids get to colour / circle / tick / cross out what floats / sinks / lives on land /grows in water / is used for home / made of plastic, etc because boy! do kids need to learn some common sense and general knowledge these days! These booklets are usually thin and easy to bring out…

activitybooks_kaokids1

Recently I had one of my readers share these with me which she so meticulously and painstakingly created, and I thought she deserves a big shoutout; they are amazing – pieces of paper so nicely designed and so much to read and learn, and so easy to pack in the bag to whip out while waiting.

Check out Jacqueline’s billingual activity packs: Exploring My Neighbourhood, Ji Fan (which is chicken rice in Chinese; that was what Ben learned when we were holed up in BKK for a while with his tennis training. He’s learned how to order chicken rice in Mandarin and read the words!), Knowing Singapore, Conversations with Grandma, and Where is it (a fun and useful pack to teach kids to describe things and places). Especially useful, and worth a mention, is this pack called ‘How Much Is It’ if you have a kindergartener going to Primary One who needs to learn the concept of money. This pack deserves another post altogether as I reaped so much benefits doing this with Becks.

activitypacks_kaokids2

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Some snippets of the 'Ji Fan' activity pack where you can even play a game of ordering!

Some snippets of the ‘Ji Fan’ activity pack where you can even play a game of ordering!

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I usually separate the assessment books for learning and the activities my kids engage in while we are out. There’s a time for the former, and usually it’s a specific carved out time to be focused for academic learning (so the habits instilled are very different from the latter). The latter (activity packs whenever we anticipate waiting time, that is) usually centres around doing lighthearted and fun things which involves largely incidental learning.

Before you throw stones at me – I do let the kids watch the TV and sometimes pass them the phone to check out apps – if books and activity packs are not so readily available. The educational apps are designed and created for the reason of keeping children engaged, and the key is always negotiating a start and end time.

We were recently introduced to the Nickelodeon PLAY app by the folks from Nickelodeon, and I found that negotiating the start/end time for a quick thrill in playing games work for my boys who are increasingly curious about ALL things games – anything that involves racing, fighting or moving virtually gets them super excited these days.

So once in a while, the kids get to check out TMNT and Game shakers games on the app, and play Crossy Road on their father’s iPad…

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And you’ll see children huddling and hovering over a device like this for a while.

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And that’s how we handle the whenever-waiting-opportunities at 7, 6 and 4 years of age.

Food, glorious food! Holidays! Milestones and growing up Motherkao loves... The Kao Kids

5 things to do with kids, the ‘chill-and-live-like-a-local’ version

December 5, 2016

We’re having the luxury of time here in Bangkok living like (and with) the locals for the second time now. The last time we did this was last year where we lived at The Hub Residence at Ramkhamhaeng and walked daily to the tennis court 5 minutes away so that Ben could get his intensive training in the mornings.

This year, we’re doing the same. Except that we’re not at The Hub this time due to their new minimum 6-months rental policy. We’ve found decent and simple lodging nearer the beginning of Soi 4, and are super stoked we’re just next to a 7-11 and literally a minute’s walk away from the glorious street food prepared and cooked by the same locals who could still remember us from last year.

The kids pretty much delve right into being at home in BKK and know the drill well – no balking at street food (the locals here take pride in what they prepare), say thank you and hello with palms pressed together in a slight bow, smile whenever things get lost in translation and speak in English slowly, and watch out for cars before they cross even the tiniest of alleys.

When in BKK living at the outskirts beyond the tourist façade of malls and high rise, here are 5 things to do to experience life as a local. Or at least, here’s 5 things we have done.

Go ahead and try it; the experience might surprise you.

1. Be ferried down the soi, the local-way

Right in front where we live, there’s a hut with parked motorcycles on the left that ferries people from place to place and pedal carts queued up to take groups of people down alleyways (with seats enough for 6 and pedalled by a local) on the right. Hop on to a pedal cart for 5 baht or onto a motorbike for less than 30, and you can get ferried from one end of the alley to the other (or beyond, perhaps!) without having to walk!

Definitely an experience for the kids on a pedal cart and a luxury for those whose legs are aching from walking too much!

Getting a ride on the pedal cart

Getting a ride on the pedal cart: the uncle pedals hard all day to get people from Point A to B

2. Play old school video games at arcades/shopping mall

A 10-baht coin slotted into any arcarde game machine is great mileage. It lasts for 15 minutes. Put 4 in and you get an hour of rest while your boys expend their energies.

Totally worth it.

Game: 40 cents Brotherly bonding: priceless

Game: 40 cents
Brotherly bonding: priceless

My father taught me how to drive

My father taught me how to drive

At the arcades in the city centre, the games are double the price (20 baht for a race car cheap thrill) but still, they are great ways to hang out with the locals or hang out like the locals. Many of the local school kids are there dancing their para-para-dance and might even challenge you in a bike or car race.

3. Explore community malls

We checked out The Commons at Thonglor and frequently go to The Mall at Ramkhanhaeng, and The Nine. These are awesome community and neighbourhood malls to be in to watch the world go by. You can sit at cafes, eat lots of crepe cakes, pretzels and donuts, and take lots of pictures. Best part is, everything where we stay (in the area of Ramkhahaeng) is almost ten times cheaper than anything in the Greater Metropolis like Siam.

The Commons has an entire storey for kids that allows for free play (if you get food and drinks) and facilitated play (200 baht for the 1st hour); methinks this is great if you want to just chill out but your kids are raring to go. I hear they also run holiday camps like crafting and cooking. They also organise block parties where you can hang out and participate in community-building activities, similar to our RC and CC activities back home.

The Commons at Thonglor, the latest community mall in Bangkok

The Commons at Thonglor, the latest community mall in Bangkok

It's not a huge mall at all; merely a space for people to hang out, but there are interesting things around

It’s not a huge mall at all; merely a space for people to hang out, but there are interesting things around

Like these giant fans to cool the space

Like these giant fans to cool the space

And lots of space and stairs to monkey around

And lots of space and stairs to monkey around

The Kids Common is where kids can have fun

The Kids Common is where kids can have fun

And where play matters

And where play matters

Driving around in a cloth bus and using all our imagination

Driving around in a cloth bus and using all our imagination

The top yard has lots of space to chill out and a herb garden to explore

The top yard has lots of space to chill out and a herb garden to explore

Lego fun at Kids Common

Lego fun at Kids Commons

Play area that's chargeable because kids get to craft under supervision

Play area that’s chargeable because kids get to craft under supervision

4. Do as the locals do + watch Thai tv for cultural immersion

December marks the beginning of mourning for the Thai people who are grieving the passing of their late king. And every now and then the tv zones out from its regular programming and broadcasts funeral rites and rituals happening live at the Grand Palace. What a great way to be immersed in the history and culture of of a country through tv broadcasts, in a time like this.

Beyond that, my kids would sit in front of the tv to watch Boomerang and cartoons in Thai. Even if they have no idea what’s being said, the constant listening in gives them the immersion I’ve always hoped they would get. They can say some simple words in Thai, which is not bad for a start!

When we head to the malls, we also take the time to walk around the various exhibitions and appreciate the many artwork and installations in memory and honour of the late Thai king. We left flowers where they were freely available for anyone who wished to pay their respect and stood in silence to watch the many videos the malls were playing.

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One of the many picture exhibition happening right now at the walkway between MBK and Siam Discovery

One of the many picture exhibition happening right now (time of writing: Dec 2016) at the walkway between MBK and Siam Discovery

Taking a moment to watch a video of celebrating King Bhumibol's life

Taking a moment to watch a video celebrating King Bhumibol’s life

The pictures even have QR codes to scan so you can download it for keeps

The pictures even have QR codes to scan so you can download it for keeps

This art installation by a local artist features some form of kinetic energy to light up a rendition of lights making up the face of the late king

This art installation by a local artist features some form of kinetic energy to light up a rendition of lights making up the face of the late king

Step on the platform, and this comes out - how brilliant!

Step on the platform, and this comes out – how brilliant!

This installation features lots of heart-shaped people as a reminder to show love and compassion to people around you and the less fortunate (it's even some form of a charity drive!) because that's how they'd like to remember King Bhumibol

This installation features lots of heart-shaped people (and free “hugs”!) as a reminder to show love and compassion to people around you and the less fortunate (it’s even some form of a charity drive!) because that’s how they’d like to remember King Bhumibol. That’s really also what he exemplified in his life.

The kids got to learn a little more about King Bhumibol’s significance in Thai society and history, and it was, in my opinion, an honour to mourn together with the people. We also tried as much as possible to wear dark colours every day.

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Leaving a special flower as a mark of respect at the atrium of Siam Paragon

5. Savour the sights and smells of street food

Nobody really cooks at home, I hear. The locals settle their breakfast, lunch and dinner at the roadside street stalls and that pretty much is their way of life.

Our rule-of-thumb for street food: food must be cooked in high heat (which means we don’t really patronise the carts that sell fruits or som tum).

We love it that we get to try everything from fried dough fritters and pork porridge to beef noodles, phad thai, wanton noodles and chicken soup right at our door step. Not to mention the freshly made Thai tea and local desserts from flavoured soy milk to coconut pancakes at such an affordable price.

The locals who make a living selling street food are a hardworking bunch who never fail to tirelessly show up to cook – every single day, including Sundays and public holidays – and we have so much respect for them; we love to stand around to watch them prepare the food we want to tabao back.

They have so much pride in what they do.

This was such a godsend: I'm hacking away with this awful cough and the porridge every morning with so much ginger and spring onions and flavourful meat balls is so much comfort

This was such a godsend: I’m hacking away with this awful cough and this porridge is what I have every morning with generous slices of ginger and spring onions and flavourful meat balls is so much comfort. I’m so regular that the stall owner just knows what to do when she sees me.

How comforting

How comforting

Dough fritters for 20 baht

7 dough fritters for 20 baht which is old school youcharkway, except that it’s pop-in-your-mouth-bite-size!

Having a feast after tennis, and it's only 9 in the morning!

Having a feast after tennis, and it’s only 9 in the morning! Ben is having pad thai freshly made and the rest of us had pork soup (fatherkao), porridge (Becks and me) and some sort of coconut and yam kueh (Nat & helper)

This.

This is the best part of being in Thailand. There’s nothing not to love, and we’re enjoying every day we’re here living like we’re one of them.

Becks Kao Holidays! I can't categorise such entries Nat Kao

What to do, where to go, what to get: when your children fall ill in BKK

December 1, 2016

Guess I’ve earned some creds to do this post now, now that I’ve survived two days with very sick children in Bangkok.

So it happened that on the morning of our very early flight to Bangkok, Becks woke up radiating heat like an overworked, cranked up truck engine. She was feeling hot to the touch and queasy the whole plane ride. Apart from giving her pain relief and oiling her like crazy with essential oils and then with ru yi oil I grabbed from Eu Yan Sang at Departure, there was really nothing we could do to make her feel better. The stewardess onboard the plane tried to do her best, cheering her up with the kid’s pack and putting up the DND sign so she could get uninterrupted sleep, but still, Becks was feeling as awful as awful can feel.

By the time we reached our rented apartment at Ramkhamhaeng, she was hitting 39 deg C already (yep, we brought our thermometer – a must when you travel with young children); and so did Nat, who began to look unwell, ran a temperature as high as Becks and knocked out the moment he hit the sack.

In a time like this where homecooked teochewmuay was out of reach and simple clear broth was almost impossible to find, I was glad for 7-11.

And so I fed my children few spoonfuls of porridge (grabbed from the quick bites section which the staff helped microwave), topping it up with warm water (congee in Thailand is more sticky than watery), and started sponging them like crazy after they filled their tummies.

It was a good thing we lugged several packs of fever patches along so they could keep a cool head while they slept. Having said that, BKK is never short of over-the-counter meds supplies at 7-11 or Boots Pharmacy and fever patches, Paracetamol, cough drops are never out of reach anywhere you go.

Kids took a nap shortly after, but they woke up feeling worse.

And then it was time to make the call: ride the fever out or get medical attention.

So I’ve been told by my friend that in Bangkok, the top three hospitals are Bumrungrad International Hospital, Bangkok Hospital and Samitivej Hospital. He kindly drove us to the Samitivej Hospital with a Children’s Centre located at 488 Srinakarin Rd Khwaeng Suan Luang, Khet Suan Luang, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10250. It was about 7pm and the wait was not excruciating (an hour or slightly more), considering we’ve all waited for more than 4 hours at KKH back at home. The staff there could converse in the English Language fairly well, but you need to speak slowly and clearly. In the interest of time, I had my friend translate when we saw the doctor, because I really felt more comfortable with some translation rather than speaking slowly when my anxiety got better of me.

Forms there are also a bit tedious to fill  – they ask you for soooo much info – so always check with the nurse if filling in the birth weight or AGPAR score is even necessary. In my case, it wasn’t.

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Getting examined

Getting examined

Anyway, service, hygiene, standards and quality of care at Samitivej were excellent and we had an absolutely pleasant experience there. The meds were similar to the ones my PD would give the kids, and the pharmacist was able to explain perfectly how to consume and when to consume the meds.

The bill, well, that’s another story.

Nonetheless, given the circumstances of having two kids running very high temperatures, I would highly recommend going there, should you ever encounter an emergency in Bangkok with kids.

The kids were given antibiotics for a bad throat infection, and a cocktail of many other meds in case they threw up / had runny nose / needed rehydration / had diarrhea from the antibiotics. Syringes were provided generously and so were child-sized face masks. There was drinking water available everywhere we turn in the hospital so you can consume the meds straightaway.

On our way home, we headed to a pharmacy (most close at 11pm, yay) to stock up on Vitamin C and other forms of supplements like milk tablets, DHA gummies and multivitamins. We’ll be needing them daily for the duration of our stay there, and so it was good to get it on Day One. The MaxValue supermarket chains are also 24 hours, and so we stocked up water by the 6-litre tubs (we buy the Aeon brand) and then headed back so the kids can get some rest quickly.

On hindsight, I think we did pretty well and were well-prepped to hold out for the interim with what we packed, which included:

  1. Probiotics – Neobiotics is the brand we buy
  2. Fever meds – Ibuprofen and Paracetamol
  3. Antihistamines – Fedac
  4. Regurgitation & gastric meds- Zantac
  5. Cooling fever patches
  6. Essential oils – peppermint, lavender, lemongrass
  7. Hand sanitisers from Dettol
  8.  Our trusty Braun ear thermometer
  9. Pull-up diapers (lots of them) – kids are toilet trained but with the amount of water they are made to sip so ever frequently to cool and hydrate, diapers are absolutely needed when they are ill and too lethargic to make toilet runs
  10. Betadine throat spray quick relief of painful throat infections

And so with the meds, the hourly sponging last night, the troopers are finally on the mend.

(Self) Examination Holidays! The Kao Kids

December Prologue Twentysixteen

November 30, 2016

I’m fighting a cough that wouldn’t go away for a month already and it’s terribly exhausting. Every night, my mind is filled with so much to write and reflect as the year comes to an end and the children are growing up so quickly before I can take stock of how the year has gone by for us but every night I am hacking, hacking, hacking away for the whole of November.

And so as time whizzes past me and my children are moving up one academic level in their learning milestone – Primary 2, Primary 1, K1 – gulp! OH MY! – I am making myself a promise to give them a little more of me in the December of twentysixteen.

And so away we go, back to where the warmth and love and kindness we’ve received the last time round, this time of the year, to be together.

Goodbye November: the Kao Kids looking out to see where December is taking us

Goodbye November: the Kao Kids looking out to see where December is taking us

This is proving to be a bit challenging though; one of them has a high high fever now and is throwing up and the other is also starting to feel ill.

Appreciate all prayers and love sent our way.

Going Out! Happy days Holidays! The Kao Kids

The suite life, at Legoland Malaysia Resort

November 7, 2016

We love to cross the causeway for this reason.

We’ve done staycays in SG but nothing beats being at Legoland Hotel in Malaysia. It’s a combination of many things – from the dancing disco lifts and treasure hunt in every room we check in (you solve a mystery and get access to a treasure chest of Lego gifts!) to the minifig trading at the lobby and the themed rooms with every possible Lego detail to put the kids in complete Lego fantasy.

The kids absolutely love, love, love being at the hotel. They love bugging the jitters out of me and Fatherkao with can we buy? buy? buy? pppplllleeeaasssseee at the Lego shop, fixing swords and sticks and spaceships from the massive pool of free flow Lego bricks at the lobby, gorging themselves silly at the breakfast buffet in the mornings and looking out from the room into the theme park and water park and talking non stop about the many adventures to be had in this place.

They weren’t even that excited at Disneyland.

The children always dream of coming back.

Which makes me feel my experience at Legoland isn’t totally complete if we’ve not stayed at the suite. We’ve stayed at the premium and deluxe themed Pirate, Kingdom and Adventure rooms but not the suite yet.

This time round last weekend, because we had company and made an entourage of 8 people + 1 toddler, we could finally stay in one. The suite can take up to 2 adults and 6 kids or 4 adults or 4 kids or 3 adults and 5 kids or whatever permutation you can make to make 8.

There are 2 bunk beds, 2 pull out trundles, 1 king-sized bed and even a spare baby playpen, complete with two baths (one tub and one standing) and a dining area with an awesomely huge ass TV and a separate kids TV area, all overlooking some of the best views of the water park and theme park on the highest floor.

At least that’s what I had at the Kingdom Suite.

Ta-daa! The view when the door flings open. Photo credit: Legoland Malaysia Resort

Ta-daa! The view when the door flings open.
Photo credit: Legoland Malaysia Resort

The sleeping area for 6

The sleeping area for 6

Complete with own TV viewing at the side

Complete with own TV viewing at the side

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The luxurious kingdom king-sized

With a dresser area

With a dresser area

The awesome living area

The awesome living area

Where my 3 kids had 2 more for company

Where my 3 kids had 2 more for company

And there's also a coffee machine, hooray for Krups!

And there’s also a coffee machine, hooray for Krups!

Check out the number of bath robes and bedroom slippers

Check out the number of bath robes and bedroom slippers

And the Mothercare playpen tucked nicely on the top shelf

And the Mothercare playpen tucked nicely on the top shelf

The awesome spacious toilet - this is toilet #1

The awesome spacious toilet – this is toilet #1

And this is toilet #2 with enough space to line 5 children up to take a bath two by two

And this is toilet #2 with enough space to line 5 children up to take a bath two by two

And these are awesome toiletries arranged like a jigsaw puzzle which we never got from the premium/deluxe rooms

And these are awesome toiletries arranged like a jigsaw puzzle which we never got from the premium/deluxe rooms

PLUS...the awesome view from the suite windows

PLUS…the awesome view from the suite window

Just makes my kids sing ‘Everything is awesome!’ on repeat mode being in this place!

So is the experience complete yet? It’s a yes for me, for sure. Being in this suite is sweetly relaxing – the space, the view, the details in the room and the wonderful Legoland hospitality.

As for the kids, it’s looking more complete than ever.

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These happy faces say it all. Our emptied wallets say it all too.

~~~

Disclosure: The suite life has been experienced in a 2D1N stay brought to you by the Kao family and their friends. It is not free, although we received a media rate at time of booking. No monetary compensation was received and all opinions here are my own.