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

How’s it looking, now that it’s April

April 14, 2015

I’ve been running round with a cape trying my best to be supermom ever since the year started and I can only say the road ahead will only get tougher for this super-tired mom. At this point of my life I am trying to do the entrepreneur-working-mom-slash-do-my-best-to-be-as-much-a-hands-on-mom but it’s one heck of an ambition and everyone around me tells me I am crazy / ambitious / crazily ambitious / ambitiously crazy / impossible.

I think so too.

My children are growing up so quickly before my eyes and if there’s only one consolation of being away so often now is the consolation that I did three kids back to back with only an 18-month gap in between each kids, and today Ben, Becks and Nat are BFFs. They entertain one another, help each other, and do everything after kindergarten hours together I now wear the back-to-back pregnancies like my badge of honour.

So if anyone reading this is looking for a reason to do their kids with a close age gap, I have just sold you one.

So how is it like to juggle the demands of running a business and being a mom? How does this mothering thing actually work now that I have a business to run?

Well, apart from not being able to do much meal planning and cooking (which my wonderful husband has kindly offered to step in to do) and having to outsource the mundane tasks like packing bags, showering and diapering (oh wait, it’s not a biggie anymore, with all the kids toilet trained, except for Becks and Nat for the night), and not hovering over and all around like the helicopter mom I always am, everything is still quite fine because we don’t take one another’s presence for granted now.

We now ask this question every day: how do we make the best of the time we have? 

My kids are gradually realising that being with Mama is precious; she doesn’t have all day to nag and wait for them like she used to when she stayed home for two years. We make the best of every moment we spend, and every short burst of activity we do becomes purposeful and meaningful.

So when it’s time for Mama School, the learning is differentiated. My helper supervises the work I prepare for the kids if I can’t be around…

Here’s sharing something I did with the kids earlier, when the boys were in the dinosaur craze:

Ladies and Gents, I need you all to meet Beth Gorden, one supermom who runs 123 Homeschool 4 Me, which has 300+ free printables and teaching ideas. She's got awesome theme packs to use, and here, I created a differentiated set from her free Dinosaur pack for my kids aged 6, 4.5 and 3

Ladies and Gents, I need you all to meet Beth Gorden, one supermom who runs 123 Homeschool 4 Me, which has 300+ free printables and teaching ideas.
She’s got awesome theme packs to use, and here, I created a differentiated set from her free Dinosaur pack for my kids aged 6, 4.5 and 3

I first made booklets with a cool cover page for each of them...

I first made booklets with a cool cover page for each of them…

Dino Work 03

I then culled what I felt was appropriate for each of my kid at his / her developmental level, sourced for more printables from the Internet and put them all together

For Ben, I made him learning bigger words

For Ben, I made him learn bigger words by creating my own set of worksheets for spelling

It's at least half an hour of engaged learning for the Kao kids

It’s at least half an hour of engaged learning for the Kao kids

And then they also come to Mama’s  actual “school” for their lessons. They interact with other children, and have lots of fun learning with Mama as their teacher…

This a Logic & Literacy class I run

This is a Logic & Literacy class I run

Learning at BlueTree 02

And another one for pre-primary children

My husband also takes them out to the amazing farms that are around us on some week days. We are living close to Seletar Farmway where the Animal Resort, Seaview Aquarium and Mycofarm (mushrooms!) are, and so they pop in and out like regular troopers on mini field trips…

Learning about fungi at Mycofarm (9 Seletar West Farmway 5, 798057), where you can buy mushrooms cheaper here

Learning about fungi at Mycofarm (9 Seletar West Farmway 5, 798057), where you can buy mushrooms cheaper here

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Just observing and exploring is meaningful time spent!

Sometimes, I schedule a quick bake break (especially when the bananas are turning black faster than we can say ‘bananas’), and they get involved…

The tasks are pretty much assigned for a banana cake. Ben mashes the bananas, Becks sieves flour and Nat whisks eggs

The tasks are pretty much assigned for a banana cake. Ben mashes the bananas, Becks sieves flour and Nat whisks eggs!

And then every night, we choose between catching past episodes of Running Man (which I believe greatly fuels their creativity) or reading bedtime stories. If they choose the latter, each of them gets to choose a book for me to read aloud. I bought all 50 books in this list so these titles (plus our Bible stories) are our bedtime staples.

And then it’s intense oiling and foot massage (if I still have the energy left) and time for bed.

I dish out like a million hugs and kisses at bedtime too. It’s to make up for not being around.

And when they go to bed, I start working again.

And the cycle goes on like this.

So.

I think it’s extremely doable – if you have an itchy backside like me and want to do things out there. You just need to make sure you have children who can keep each other company and be best friends and best enemies with, and then schedule in short bursts of fun and learning. Oh yes, that plus a really trusty right-hand aide (like a good helper whom you can outsource everything that is time-consuming to from ironing to steaming mantou for breakfast) and being able to reserve your last ounce of energy for a heartwarming tuck-in at bedtime every night.

You’ll be tired, I’m so sure you would; but nothing beats a healthy dose of ‘We-miss-Mama-we-will-treasure-her’ and ‘I-miss-my-kids-I-am-going-to-choose-my-battles’ every day.

Nobody’s gonna be taking nobody for granted these days, that’s for sure.

My babies and their Mama in a huddle

Wefie: My babies and their Mama in a huddle

***

P/S: If you’re all ready to start something and get entrepreneurial, you have a friend here. Hook up with me and we can give each other friendly, mommy support! :)

All this blog's PR Stuff Going Out! Learning fun! The Kao Kids

A date with Mama’s old friend

April 1, 2015

If you grew up in Singapore, you would have met Singa the Courtesy Lion.

In fact, I’m going to show off here on my own blog to say that I was once chosen to wear the ‘kindness badge’ that’s got Singa on it in Primary 2. Or was it Primary 3? Gosh, that was way too long ago. Back then, he was the mascot of the Courtesy Campaign. And the badge was the coveted honour we wanted to wear on our school uniforms because that’s to tell the world you’re a very, very courteous pupil.

It’s no longer called the Courtesy Campaign now but the ‘Singapore Kindness Movement’ today. Back in the good ol’ days in 1996, during his New Year Message, then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong highlighted the need for Singapore to become a gracious society by the 21st century. Considerate social behaviour supported by a strong economy and good government will make Singapore the best home for its people, he said. In line with Mr Goh’s call to build a gracious society, the Singapore Kindness Movement (SKM) was formed in 1997 and aims to encourage Singaporeans to make a positive commitment to gracious living through simple acts of kindness in their daily activities.

I’m all for teaching kindness and graciousness to my children, and it’s my personal parenting belief that with or without this movement, my kids must learn their manners and to be gracious from the heart.

But Singa! Singa is someone they absolutely must meet! So despite not needing to join a movement to learn about kindness, I had to lug everyone to see him when he came to a mall near us with his ‘Kindness Cubbies’.

It was nice to get up close and personal with an old friend. Yes, he was introduced as “Mama’s primary school friend” to the Kao kids.

Singa

Singa & the Kindness Cubbies

Singa & the Kindness Cubbies_and us

My children’s take-away from this meet-and-greet and mall show? I’m so glad it wasn’t “Singa is so cute right!” or “Omigosh, the girl-cubbie’s so adorable” but the 5 MAGIC WORDS to make Kindsville a pleasant place to live in.

What are the 5 MAGIC WORDS? Bring your kids to check Singa and the Kindness Cubbies out!

Venue: Northpoint Shopping Centre

Date & Time:

  • 17th April (Friday) – 7:30PM
  • 18th April (Saturday) – 2:30PM & 7:00PM
  • 19th April (Sunday) – 2:30PM & 7:00PM

Venue: Downtown East

Date & Time:

  • 1st May (Friday) – 7:30PM
  • 2nd May (Saturday) – 2:30PM & 7:00PM
  • 3rd May (Sunday) – 2:30PM & 7:00PM
At the roadshow, you can even send 'Love Letters' for free to family members and friends, courtesy of the very kind SingPost!

At the roadshow, you can even send ‘Love Letters’ for free to family members and friends, courtesy of the very kind SingPost!

Disclosure: I’m a supporter of any local movement or initiative that makes our home a better place. Here’s to spread a little kindness! We were invited to pose with Singa and Cubbies. No monetary compensation was received. All opinions here are our own.

All this blog's PR Stuff Going Out! Learning fun! The Kao Kids

Starting the holidays on a Voyage of Big Ideas

March 15, 2015

Tis’ the first day of the March holidays today, and we were up and about, dreaming, exploring and embarking on new adventures.

At Imaginarium, that is.

Imaginarium: A Voyage of Big Ideas, the exhibition is inspired by the crescent moon on the Singapore flag, symbolising a young nation on the rise and its capacity to dream big and think large

Imaginarium: A Voyage of Big Ideas, a children’s exhibition inspired by the crescent moon on the Singapore flag, symbolising a young nation on the rise and its capacity to dream big and think large.

Imaginarium: A Voyage of Big Ideas, is the new edition of the Singapore Art Museum at 8Q‘s much loved annual contemporary art exhibition for children. Now in its fifth year running, this exhibition features immersive artworks by emerging and established artists from Singapore and around the region and interactive hands-on activities for “everyone and anyone with a head for ideas and a heart for adventure”. It’s also the first in a series of SAM exhibitions that celebrate Singapore’s Jubilee Year.

We were invited by SAM@8Q and CRIB Society, Singapore’s first social enterprise that aims to empower women entrepreneurs through networking, matchmaking and incubation, of which I am also a member of, for the media preview of Imaginarium.

The exhibition, specially dedicated to children and curated for them to learn and play, is truly one that reflects a learning-through-play philosophy and appeals to a child’s senses and sense of exploration.

The Kao kids got to wander – and wonder – a lot today. At SAM, they gamely put on their sense of keenness and exploration and their most appropriate behaviour (after many rounds of “briefing” before we came, also known as follow instructions! remember a museum is not a playground! make sure everyone gets to enjoy so no yelling and hoarding! be mindful of others around you! and other momspeak), we checked out every gallery at Imaginarium, which spans four levels.

The start of our wandering and wondering at SAM at 8Q: today we have DinoBoy from DinoMama Blog for company!

The start of our wandering and wondering at SAM at 8Q: today we had DinoBoy from DinoMama Blog for company!

Here at Imaginairum, they built their own estates and communities with these tetris-shaped blocks in this colourfully illustrated room…

Drawing inspiration from urban planning, Singapore artist Chiang Yu Xiang’s We Built this Estate! is an interactive installation that invites everyone to create their own housing estates and city skyline with Tetris-shaped housing blocks.

Drawing inspiration from urban planning, Singapore artist Chiang Yu Xiang’s We Built this Estate! invites everyone to create their own housing estates and city skyline with Tetris-shaped housing blocks.

Imaginarium_03

We built this city!

We built this city!

We built this city of tetris shapes!

We built this city!

We built this city!

We built this city of tetris shapes!

We built this city of tetris shapes!

Dropped their jaws in fascination, looking at these fantastical versions of the Singapore story and doodles…

Imagine-a-doodle by Singapore collective Band of Doodlers: illustrations sprawled across the walls and winding their way up the four levels of SAM at 8Q

Imagine-a-doodle by Singapore collective Band of Doodlers: illustrations sprawled across the walls and winding their way up all four floors of SAM at 8Q!

Made music when an adult (yes, their Mama – who else?) cycled on a stationary bicycle…

Here I am, cycling in a dark room, with the boys waiting for energy to transferred so they can start making music.

Here I am, cycling in a dark room, with the boys waiting for energy to be transferred so they can start making music. This is the artwork of Canadian-born, Singapore-based artist Vincent Twardzik’s Green II: Interstellar Overdrive. This artwork installation only comes alive when visitors cycle on stationary bicycles which are hooked up to various objects.

Created a dream world of planting sweets…

Planting rice is never fun. But planting sweets is.

Planting rice is never fun. But planting sweets is.

Nat is lost. In a sea of candy trees.

Nat is lost. In a sea of candy trees.

Someone has a sweet tooth, this is for sure.

Someone has a sweet tooth, that is for sure.

"I wish this was a real Chupa Chups," he said.

“I wish this was a real Chupa Chups,” he said.  This installation is the Dream House by South Korean artist Jeeyoung Lee. And we all know why.

Discovered magical secret worlds…

Entering into a world of magical colours...

Entering Kiko’s Secrets by Sri Lankan-born, Vietnam-based artist Kumkum Fernando. First, the world of magical colours…

And another of bugs...

And another of bugs…

Really weird bugs!

Really weird bugs!

Look, Mama! Look what I found!

Look, Mama! Look what I found!

EGGS!!!

EGGS!!!

And got a good whole hour of hands-on fun adding to a collective tapestry featuring yarn, and weaving, covering spaces and making pom-poms…

Singaporean artist Izziyana Suhaimi’s work Let’s Make! Studio explores new worlds through embroidery. In a designed workspace in the gallery, visitors are invited to make their own small objects which capture their thoughts about Singapore’s future

Singaporean artist Izziyana Suhaimi’s work Let’s Make! Studio explores new worlds through embroidery. In a designed workspace in the gallery, visitors are invited to make their own small objects which capture their thoughts about Singapore’s future.

And so the kids begin... to make something bigger than their lives

And so the kids begin… to make something bigger than their lives

Twirling yarn around nails...

Twirling yarn around nails…

Mixing colours and finding patterns...

Mixing colours and finding patterns…

And while Ben weaved some more...

And while Ben weaved some more…

Becks and Nat chilled at the reading corner, flipping story books

Becks and Nat chilled at the reading corner, flipping story books

And then of course, someone doesn't really read. He goes to make green pom-poms instead.

And then of course, someone doesn’t really read so he goes to make green pom-poms instead.

Hot favourites of the day were yarn, yarn and more yarn, and tetris-shaped blocks.

The next time round, I hope to get them to appreciate more of the details found in these art installations and contemplate on a deeper level what they are interacting with.

There’s just so much to learn and teach through art, and I am glad we had the opportunity to do that today. The kids have been experiencing more of my absence this year, and we finally got some time together today, which would not have been possible on most Saturdays. I think this is the first time this year we are spending so many hours together being meaningfully engaged in something, and I’m glad we did it with Imaginarium.

Tis’ a great start to the March hols!

Candy floss, anyone?

Candy floss, anyone?

***

Imaginarium: A Big Voyage of Ideas beckons the adventurers, the dreamers, and the explorers of today to embark on a journey of discovery, and together, sail towards exciting new horizons. From 14 March to 19 July 2015 at the Singapore Art Museum at 8Q. Free admission for Singapore citizens and Permanent Residents.

Disclosure: We were invited to preview Imaginarium by CRIB Society. No monetary compensation was received, and all opinions here are my own.

Learning fun! Reading fun The Kao Kids

The Kao Kids and the Purple Crayon

January 16, 2015

If you’ve not read Harold and the Purple Crayon with your kids, you absolutely must.

Just last year, I embarked on a quest to buy – and read (of course!) – every single book found in this list called ’50 Books Every Parent Should Read to their Child’. Believe you me, I (crazily) ordered every single title found in this list from Amazon, and have been clocking in bedtime story hours ever since with these lovely children stories.

Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson is one of them, and one of our favourites.

HPPC_1

I managed to find some creative lesson ideas from this website for the book, and conducted 3 different activities for Ben, Becks and Nat for one of our homelearning lessons with the book.

Ben (5 years old, going 6)

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HPPC_9

For Ben, I downloaded the Harold Lined Writing Paper from Starts at Eight, and got him to copy his favourite phrases from the book. I also did up a quick questionnaire for him to get him to contribute some free responses. I got him to talk to me about what he wished to see Harold draw, and it was fun to explore his world of dragons, mummies and monsters.

His activity concluded with drawing anything he liked from the book. I encouraged him to copy what Harold drew following the lines and shapes that he sees.

HPPC_8

Becks (4 years, going on 5)

For Becks, I printed the Harold Colouring Sheets from the same website but I asked her questions about the imagination versus the real. I know this is a book that takes our imagination to the farthest, which is altogether so lighthearted and enjoyable, but I got down to asking Becks questions to check if she could differentiate between fictitious and actual. I read somewhere that while it is developmentally normal for toddlers to have difficulties grasping the difference between real and make-believe, it should get pretty obvious for an older child.

HPPC_6

HPPC_7

Her task was to give me everything coloured the way she feels they should be coloured, and I was glad I got to see red apples and green trees. Everything was fine except she gave me a purple moon. Hmm. I’m sure some Harold is also in this girl, and I’m happy she loves to imagine too.

Nat (2 years, going on 3)

Lesson was short and simple for the littlest one: find the purple from our colour pencil and crayon stash, and colour away!

HPPC_4

HPPC_5

And colour he did!

It was a fruitful session of seeing purple, and enjoying one of our favourite reads this way!

HPPC_3

Happy days The Kao Kids The real supermom

The 4th Baby

December 8, 2014

Finally, after many months of gestation, the 4th baby is finally born.

I’ve shared in previous posts about going back to work, making the work-from-home gig work out, and being a better mom for the kids because it’s back to work for me after staying home with them for 2 years.

I was at work making this baby.

If you're curious why BlueTree - blue is the colour of wisdom, and we believe in growing every child

If you’re curious why BlueTree – blue is the colour of wisdom, and we believe in growing every child

With Mom Blogger Friends who write at MumCraft, Mummy Ed, Xavylicious, Evespiration, RayConnieBaby and Amazingly Still

With mom blogger friends who write at Mum Craft, Mummy Ed, Xavy-licious, Evespiration, RayConnieBaby and Amazingly Still

And their kids!

And their kids!

We always knew that staying home with the kids was never the final destination of anything. It was to be the start of a journey to ideate and conceive the impossible.

I started this because I believe in education. I really do. I worked as an educator for 7 years and still miss every single day being in a classroom.

I’m not one of those crazy parents that hothouses her children but  judging by how the education landscape is changing and how increasingly populated we are as a country, I am beginning to think it is a little myopic to reject supplementary education totally and to dismiss it. Having been in classrooms at all levels from primary, secondary and pre-university, I see that there’s a lot that can be done with supplementary education that mass education cannot do. Mass education – and the quality of it – can kill the love for learning and the true motivations for thinking. Mass education can only do what it does best – to mass produce.

And hence, my little own “school”.

And so if this blog is becoming silent for a while, please forgive me. I’ve got a whole lot of nursing to do with this new baby. This space will still be what it was meant to be – a chronicling of my journey as a mother of the Kao kids whom I had back to back (and how time flies; they are 5,4 and 2 now!) which would be my gift for these precious babies who have taught me much about life. This blog will not become a business platform, I assure you. It will remain a sacred space where you will commiserate with me the woes of raising children (hurhurhur), as well as share vicariously the joys of happy moments and beautiful times.

I may be wrapped up with the new baby for now but my heart will always belong to the three babies at home who have so much love in their hearts to give. This space will always be for them, and about them.

Picture by Orange Studios

Picture by Orange Studios

 

P/S: For the record, this baby isn’t all mine. I’ve got support and help coming from everywhere. I’ve always believed in angels.

Becks Kao Ben Kao Going Out! Learning fun! Milestones and growing up Re: learning and child training

What my kids caught which can never be taught when it poured

November 2, 2014

One of the perks of being a blogger, at least for me these days, besides getting the usual media invites for events and product samples for review, is to be invited to exercise.

Which by the way, is great, because I so need to do so.

We were invited by the good people at SPRG (the same good folks that invited me to participate in the Great Eastern Women’s Run as an influencer) to join in the inaugural Hello Kitty Run 2014 at Sentosa as part of the feline character’s 40th birthday celebration here in Singapore. Since Becks, my little girl, is such a fan, they say.

But it’s 5km! I say. Her royal highness is not going to be able to make a 5km-run, not when her mother hasn’t even done her maiden 5 clicks yet.

It’s a FUN run, they say. And it’s perfectly ok if we walked and enjoyed the scenery.

So we said ok. Because her royal highness is such a fan, and she got excited by the thought of being in a run with me. And with Hello Kitty, or so she thinks.

And so we joined 17, 000 other fans yesterday at Sentosa, to participate in the first run of our lives together – me, Becks and Ben.

Hello Kitty’s mega 40th birthday surprise comprised a bouquet of flowers presented by Dear Daniel, a 33 inch cupcake and a birthday song sung to her by all 17,000 race participants. (Image Credit: SPRG)

Hello Kitty’s mega 40th birthday surprise comprised a bouquet of flowers
presented by Dear Daniel, a 33 inch cupcake and a birthday song sung to her
by all 17,000 race participants. (Image Credit: SPRG)

It was a madding crowd, I tell you. Local and overseas fans turned up in full force – men, women, boys, girls alike – tattooed with red ribbons and donning everything that screamed Hello Kitty from headbands and spectacles to shoes and shimmering pink skirts.

Sandwiched all the the way at the back in the huge crowd - but first, a wefie! (Look at her royal highness' grumpy face - too hot and stuffy, she says)

Sandwiched all the the way at the back in the huge crowd – but first, a wefie! (Look at her royal highness’ grumpy face – too hot and stuffy, she says)

We had to be flagged off in waves because there was such a swelling human crowd. The jostling and heat, plus the threat of a stampede, were just too much to bear.

Just look at how crazily packed it was at the starting line.

17 thousand people, folks. This is how it looked like! (Image Credit: SPRG)

17 thousand people, folks. This was how it looked like! (Image Credit: SPRG)

And then the terrible happened.

This was how the sky looked when we finally got close enough to the starting line

This was how the sky looked when we finally got close enough to the starting line

And there were still a whole lot of people in front of us!

Look at the dark clouds covering the skies. And there were still a whole lot of people in front of us!

The moment the fourth wave was flagged off (and that was us), the rain started pelting heavily on us.

It was like all the Chinese compositions we’ve ever written in school that always read “突然间下了倾盆大雨… 我们都像落汤鸡一样” came to life (loosely translated: suddenly, it rained cats and dogs and we looked bedraggled like drowned rats).

And I was torn between running back to seek shelter and hailing a cab home from Vivocity or continue walking in the rain with my five-year-old and four-year-old. So many people with young children were walking past us with their kids and babies strapped in carriers and strollers in the opposite direction anyway. Nobody would blame us for not being able to continue the race.

I was also very worried about the kids catching a cold. They have never, ever been drenched like this in their lives, and if they ever got wet because they were at water playgrounds, we always made sure that there was a warm shower facility and fresh change of clothes available. I didn’t have a brolly or poncho in my bag. I had packed light for the run – there was only a water bottle, two hand towels and two singlets to change out in my bag, plus keys and some money.

I stopped with the kids to hide under some bushes near Sentosa Gateway and asked the kids a few questions to gather information about their state so I could make a more informed decision:

Me: The rain doesn’t look like it would stop. It may get heavier and we would soon be wet to our socks, shoes and underwear. Shall we run back?

Ben and Becks: *silence*

Me: If we run back now, we can make our way home. Then we won’t be so wet.

Ben: But you said if we start a race, we finish it. That’s what people do when they race?

Me: Yep, I did say that whether we are comfortable or uncomfortable, wet or dry, we don’t give up once we start. But it’s a long way ahead. Sure you want to continue in this?

Becks: I don’t want to go home. I want to continue.

Me: Ben?

Ben: Yes, continue. We don’t give up.

Me: Alright, let’s press on to get our medals.

Ben & Becks: Continue! *with a glint in their eyes and smile on their face*

And so the decision was made. We continued to have a similar conversation in the rain at the 800m mark, the 1.6m water point and the 2.4km toilet break, and every time I would ask, “Shall we seek shelter? Can we take a break? Shall we wait till the rain becomes a lighter drizzle?” and the answer from my two determined children would still be the same.

“Let’s continue,” they would say. “Let’s not give up.”

And never did we stop once in our 5-km walk to hide from the rain or to rest our tired legs or to whine. Ben and Becks saw it as a chance of a lifetime to be indulging in free flow water play, and I saw that they were considerably cheerier as compared to the looks on their faces while we waited in the heat for the race to start.

They were happy to be skipping in the rain, wringing out water from their shirts and splashing in puddles.

Playing with raindrops at our toilet break near Palawan Beach

Playing with raindrops at our toilet break near Palawan Beach

My bag was soaked through and there would be no more dry clothes and towels, but was so glad I had a ziploc bag for my phone - hence this photo!

My bag was soaked through and there would be no more dry clothes and towels, but was so glad I had a ziploc bag for my phone – hence this photo!

The rain made being in the race uncomfortable physically for all of us but it lifted the spirits of these children.

Around the 1km slope uphill we also experienced kindness. A lady walked past us as we chanted “Never give up!” and swiftly removed the towel Ben had on his head with a beret she was wearing. Without saying a word, she waved goodbye and we were left to savour the act of kindness speechless in the rain.

What an awesome moment. Which I am sure would be remembered by Ben for a long time.

We also experienced kindness at the Sapphire Pavillion after the finish line from three lovely ladies who helped me protect my kids from the squashing and mayhem that was unfolding before our eyes as everyone pushed and shoved to collect their medals. Because it was still pouring and the only way to exchange our race bibs for our medals was in leylong style (the organisers should have thought of a more systematic way to queue, or maybe they did but everyone was in such dire need of shelter that they just kept packing the space resulting in the human jam), the kids and I were compressed by the people all around us till it got difficult to breathe. It was then we meet three friends who helped us out. Two of them formed a human cordon around my children and the last one grabbed our race bibs and edged forward to exchange for the medals on our behalf.

For that I remain forever grateful to the good Samaritans I met last morning.

Last morning, I was reminded of Philippians 3:14. We were literally pressing on towards the goal to reach for the prize.

Last morning, my children learned something that can never be taught by words nor bought by attending an enrichment class.

And we finished the race!

And we finished the race!

Last morning, they walked all 5km of a race from start to finish on their own. No strollers. No carrying. No breaks.

Last morning, they learned what it meant to never give up, and that the medal was every bit the prize they had worked hard for that they deserved.

It would have been otherwise difficult to learn this precious lesson had it not been for Hello Kitty and the rain that fell on us.

Our well-deserved medal!

Our well-deserved medal!

Disclosure: We were give media slots to participate in the Hello Kitty Run 2014. All opinions here are ours, including the lesson we learned and the exercise opportunity we gained. We endured wet clothes, shoes, socks and underwear to bring you this post. 

Becks Kao Ben Kao Homelearning fun Learning fun! Milestones and growing up Reading fun

Stories, they wrote

September 29, 2014

I’m raising some junior novelists, I tell you. Ever since this became a possibility:

Dotted font_stories-1

This treasure trove of a website called Teachers Pay Teachers is a wonderful repository of resources, many of which are free. Register an account, and search for “free dotted font”. Download whichever dotted font (with lines, without lines, etc) you fancy, and wa la! The kids can start their exciting writing journey.

My kids take turns to consult their “publisher” once they have a story in their head. They take turns to sit next to her and “write” their stories orally with her.

As a publishing consultant, which is me, by the way, I find teachable moments to help them learn about plot, settings, introduction, conclusion, climax and all the various elements of a good narrative as they dictate their story.

Sometimes they get carried away. I let them talk out loud still, and allow them to imagine. When they are done, I turn on the laptop and then type the gist of their stories out in simple, grammatically correct sentences which are easy to understand.

I  launch the dotted font, type away with the junior author standing next to me, include some relevant pictures from colouring printables, print them out and get them to trace their stories, like this:

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They are now proud authors of their own story booklets!

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A different approach to reading for her royal miss

September 27, 2014

My little girl has turned 4 and you know what that means.

It means I’m starting to panic. I haven’t been spending much time with her and teaching her to read.

It’s like that with motherhood, isn’t it? You become exceedingly enthused with the first child, and with that enthusiasm you carry a big sack full of expectations which you pile on your firstborn, and when your firstborn meets your expectations and exceeds them, you breathe a huge sigh of relief and fall into the trap of thinking that the rest of the kids will naturally hit those learning milestones because the first one did it.

Well, at least I lived in that cloud for a while.

Ben and Becks are one academic year apart (18 months to be exact) and because I have finally gotten Ben to be reading and writing on his own, I had thought that I would be breathing a whole lot easier since Ben can now start impressing Becks with his much sought-after reading ability and maybe spurring her to start exploring books on her own.

But no, this little girl would much prefer to be writing gibberish notes and drawing and singing to her bolster – which is totally adorable still – that she’s not impressed much that Korkor has learned to read – from readers to subtitles to signs on the road and labels on food packaging. She now conveniently makes Korkor read for her and to her.

Oh, her royal highness.

What I get on a daily basis: my little girl stuffs notes in an envelope for me. Her gibberish is cute - she uses all the letters she knows to write to form words only she can decode

What I get on a daily basis: my little girl stuffs notes in an envelope for me. Her gibberish is cute – she uses all the letters she knows to write to form words only she can decode!

And so I am going to back to the basics again, this time round with my middle child.

Becks is not a flashcard kinda girl, and if you were to approach with books and nothing else, she might only just give you five minutes of her attention. So I tried this with her, and she loved it.

First, a simple reader which would help her in decoding simple words.

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Then a highlighter and a jotter book to get her to trace the words and blending the sounds out loud.

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Followed by many rounds of a simple ‘find the word’ game:

Can you point to ‘sat? Now point to ‘mat’? Which is ‘cat’? Good finding, now let’s draw a cat and label it!

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Wa la, and now she likes to be doing reading and tracing with me! She’s a pen and paper kind of girl, so a nice clean jotter book, a pink or purple pencil (preferably of the princess kind) and lots of encouragement would pretty much hook her in. I’ve to be prepared to let one jotter book go after every session though. This girl used up the remaining pages in the book to continue writing her stories and notes in gibberish after each session, but at least we’ve done some reading, tracing and drawing with it first!

Everyday fun! Homelearning fun The Kao Kids

Rotten veg comeback

September 12, 2014

It’s beginning to feel a little tight. 24 hours is clearly not enough for me. With work entering the picture these days, my vegetables can’t wait. They can’t hold out long enough for Mama to come back to make soups or a hearty dish of japchae.

They are rotting faster than I can say, “Wait for me!”

Poor veggies. Rather than subject them to the cruel fate of being trashed immediately, I got them to be useful nonetheless.

Enter veggie stamping fun:

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Perfect indoor activity to relieve boredom. Zero guilt for not being able to cook them. They have served us well till the end!

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Going on a plastic fast, and playing with traditional toys

September 2, 2014

It’s not every day you get invited to a toy store and go behind the scenes to learn how it operates.

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Excited kids pretending to buy this and that

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Cashier Ben at your service – how much is the white tiger in the window?

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Cashier Becks tells you everything is free ! (hurhurhur)

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Cashier Nat only accepts cash

It’s not every day you get invited to a toy store and get a glimpse at some of the most exquisite toys it imports and sells.

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An impressive range of traditional educational toys that develop cognitive skills, 3D imagination and logical deduction

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Petitcollin dolls: phthalate free, vintage handmade collectibles with handsewn clothes (I’m a doll-lover myself, so this cabinet was fascinating for the girl in me – oh the details on their faces!)

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Vilac, the oldest toymaker in France: they’ve been making traditional wooden toys in a factory set in the Jura Mountains and their wide range of handmade toys include building blocks, wooden cars, planes, and automobiles, tea sets and musical instruments all handcrafted using high-quality wood and a unique lacquer formula

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More charming collections displayed all around the store

It’s not every day you enter a toy store and find that practically nothing there calls for your concern – with regards to toxic materials and hazards – because you know, as a mom, you raise your eyebrows when wooden toys have labels that read ‘Made in China’. Almost every toy there is either Swiss-made, German-made, French-made and at the very least, handmade.

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Pizza-making and animal farm play that’s safe for little hands

It’s not every day you get to play with the lightest modelling compound in the world, and shape things with a dough so fluffy and soft, and never dries out.

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Ladies and Gents, this is Bubber, the award-winning, lightest modelling compound on earth!

And it’s not every day you get to walk home with toys from the store with compliments from the store itself. Just look at these beaming children.

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Happy kids to receive presents specially handpicked for them

And for many days, these toys kept the Kao kids going on their plastic “fast”. Yep, you heard that right, these kids’ mother decided that they’ve been touching plastic way too much, and issued them a challenge of finding creative ways to play with their new wooden toys.

So besides going fishing, using the xylophone for every pretend-play royal proclamation of Princess Becks’ arrival, and assigning animals to their barns to the tune of ‘Old MacDonald’s’, the Kao kids have got the texture of wood incorporated in their play, which is a good change from their usual sensory experiences with plastic toys.

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Ben’s going to fish, Nat owns a barn, and Becks get a xylophone that the boys would have to play for her when her royal highness deems it fit!

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Play time!

A whole new dimension of fun to be remembered for a long time!

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Zero2Six is a toy store launched in 2010 by a concerned mother with a single vision – to bring in award winning traditional toys that are unique, educational, eco-friendly and fun for children in an age where digital products are increasingly encroaching into a child’s playtime and development.

Zero2Six toys are sourced from premium toymakers in Europe and USA that have passed the highest safety standard tests worldwide and made with the finest natural materials. They are exceptional in quality and educational value, and made by some of the world’s oldest toymakers in the world who still believe that a handmade toy is a craft and not a commercialised product.

Zero2Six can be found at Katong I12, Mandarin Gallery and Jem. Connect with them via FB at their FB Page here.

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Disclosure: We’ve been invited by Zero2Six for a behind-the-scene toystore experience. The toys in this post have been specially handpicked and sponsored by them. No monetary compensation was received for this post, and all opinions here are our own.