Browsing Tag

PLAY

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)…

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

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  • 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…

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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.

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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!

~~~

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.

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Safari Zoo Run 2017: 3 more days to sign up + discount code to do so!

December 6, 2016

We’ve always loved the zoo, zoo, zoo; how about you, you, you?

You can love it too, too, too.

Let’s all love the zoo, zoo, zoo.

Sorry, can’t help myself doing a little boogie dance here when I think about my family’s love affair with the Singapore Zoo.

Did you know that our award-winning Singapore Zoo is something all of us can be proud of? I’m proud of the fact that it is committed to wildlife conservation and conservation research, and that every cent I spend there goes to supporting the efforts to keep the conservation spirit going.

The Safari Zoo Run was conceived to commemorate Singapore Zoo’s famous matriarch and one of Singapore’s most loved animal personalities — Ah Meng the Sumatran orangutan, who died of old age in February 2008, as well as to encourage family bonding, and next year’s Zoo Run is going to get more exciting with the theme “Run for Wildlife”, focusing on raising awareness for wildlife conservation.

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The Zoo Run will feature 4 animal icons in the form of Team ‘Ah Meng the Orangutan’, Team ‘Chawang the Asian Elephant’, Team ‘Canola the Manatee’ and Team ‘Sunny the Hornbill’. You’ll get to do your part for wildlife by choosing an animal team to support and help raise awareness for them.

Join a team and run for wildlife today – because we’ll certainly be doing likewise like we did this year, probably in the non-competitive category! I very much anticipate the Kao kids wanting Team Canola bad (hurhurhur, manatees cutiesssss!) but I may be wrong (I haven’t told the kids yet!).

We’ll be revealing our animal team at next year’s run, so see you on 18 February 2017!

More details

Run for Wildlife Safari Zoo Run is happening next year on 18 Feb 2017 (Saturday) – get more details on race categories, fees and age limits for kids here.

The Early Bird Rate for registration ends on 9 Dec (2359 hours), and the organisers tell me that they’re giving a unique discount code to enjoy 10% off prevailing rates when you register from now till 15 Jan 2017.

Use SZR2017BGPMOTHERKAO10 when you register to get your discount!

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.

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.

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Ninja-wannabes training programme – Launch of Legoland’s Ninjago Ride

November 7, 2016

My boys have three loves when it comes to LEGO – Chima, Nexo Knights and Ninjago. A long time ago, these Lego TV series and their characters sound like ridiculously made up words to me: Moltor, Lavelle, Merlok, Fangpyre, Garmadon, Spitta, Samukai, Ming (the name of a ghost!), Morro, Kruncha, Frakjaw, Bonezai… (and I can go on and on) – but these days everything in all these three series have found seamless integration into our daily vocabulary at home, especially with the kids.

The good thing is, each of these series has at least one or two female characters, so Becks is usually not left out.

And if all three kids had to pick a favourite – it has to be the Ninjago series, where the elusive world of ninja-hood is made accessible to them, and where it’s absolutely cool to wield ninja weapons like the sword, the shuriken, nunchuks, the scythe, and the sai,  and learn kungfu moves.

Correction (as rectified by Ben): The ninja heroes – Kai, Jay, Cole and Zane; and later Lloyd and Nya, train under Sensei Wu to master an ancient martial art called Spinjitzu. It’s not kungfu, alright.

It was only just a while ago they were completely clueless about these ninjas and their stories.

So when LEGO Ninjago World finally opened on 4 November in Legoland Malaysia, my ninja warriors at home declared that they absolutely have to head there to check it out.

They have been hearing so much about the new ride and have been anticipating its launch since our last visit to Legoland.

And so to Legoland we went over the weekend, despite the jam, the rain and the sick mother.


It was drizzling all of last Saturday but that never once dampened any ninja-wannabe’s spirit to defeat their enemies.

The ninja-wannabes entered Ninjago World with much anticipation and respect to Master Wu (hurhurhur, the joke internally is that Master Wu is me because that is my surname), and met their favourite Ninjagos in brick form.

Always ninja-ready! The boys had company this trip!

Always ninja-ready! The boys had company this trip!

Nat with his favourite Ninjago

Nat with his favourite Ninjago

With Cole the black ninja

With Cole the black ninja

We so don't need any lightning now, Ben

We so don’t need any lightning now, Ben

Check out the awesome Mountain Shrine made of bricks where Ben tells me the ninjas train in private. And Nat says, "My face is like that because I am Lloyd and he is very angry."

Check out the awesome Mountain Shrine made of bricks where Ben tells me the ninjas train in private. And Nat says, “My face is like that because I am Lloyd and he is very angry.”

All ready for ninjahood!

All ready for ninjahood… and the 4D adventure!

Ninjago The Ride, we hear, is the very first of its kind in Asia. The new 4D ride enables guests to use their hands to throw virtual lightning bolts, move shockwaves, send ice soaring and emit fireballs with incredible accuracy – and you can feel the heat and cold too! With teamwork (maximum 4 in a car), ninja wannabes can become their favourite characters and defeat enemies, from snake tribes, ghosts and skeletons to the Great Devourer under the guidance of Master Wu.

So it was NINJA…GO from the get go!

There's a gallery indoors leading to the ride which made Becks the happiest because she found her long lost sister, Nya

There’s a gallery indoors leading to the ride which made Becks the happiest because she found her long lost sister, Nya

Nya's story told in pictures

Nya’s story told in pictures

Lots of visuals to look at while meandering towards the queue

Lots of visuals to look at while meandering towards the queue

And you can also stop to fix bricks on brick murals

And you can also stop to fix bricks on brick murals

And finally...

And finally…

The two littles insisted they were afraid and needed to be with me. They gamely put on those 3D glasses nonetheless...

The two littles insisted they were afraid and needed to be with me. They gamely put on those 3D glasses nonetheless…

And so it was, that the camera captured us this way…

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And this way, for the car in front of us!

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Throwing virtual projectiles with mere hands in an indoor ride away from the rain, by the way, was a brilliant idea, especially since we were there on a day the rain didn’t seem to go away.

And it’s an awesome and exhilarating experience, I tell you – the ride features a ride track of more than 400 feet, 10 scenes and 39 projectors that spin you round and take you high and low, immersing you in a 4-dimensional interactive adventure as a ninjago.

So awesome was it I went twice with the boys (Becks went once and declared ninjahood this way isn’t for her, haha) and my arms are now aching from shooting fire and ice at villains that came charging in my face.

Coming in 3rd with a 6-figure score! Not bad considering I shot all the shurikens of ice and swords of fire

Coming in 1st with a 6-figure score for the first round! Not bad considering I shot all the shurikens of ice and swords of fire

And 3rd on our 2nd attempt. This time round the boys said they will be sharper and faster, but I still think I did all the work!

And 3rd on our 2nd attempt. This time round the boys said they will be sharper and faster, but I still think I did all the work!

The boys felt as though they received a badge of honour having been trained by the simulation ride to be proper ninjas with proper ninja moves. They have, henceforth, officially declared to have undergone the tutelage of Sensei Wu and emerged “trained”.

I, for one, am declaring that I have officially mastered the snake move in Spinjitzu. See above last picture. I’m like the most awesome ice and fire snake-style ninja.

The ninjas will be working hard overtime fighting imaginary villains, for sure, back at home. After receiving tough training like this, I forsee my boys applying what they learn, complete with throwing REAL projectiles now.

Cue ‘Everything is awesome‘ Lego movie theme song.

~~~

LEGOLAND® Malaysia Resort announced the opening of its latest hi-tech attraction, LEGO® NINJAGO™ The Ride, the very first of its kind in Asia, on 4 November 2016. Visit LEGOLAND® Malaysia Resort’s official website or contact LEGOLAND ® Malaysia at +60-7-597 8888 and stay connected with LEGOLAND Malaysia Resort’s social handles (Facebook & Twitter) to find out more about their online promotions.

Disclosure: We were invited to Legoland Malaysia – whose hospitality for the Kao family is immeasurably awesome, as always – to review this ride. All opinions of ninjas, ninjahood and ninja training are our own.

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

A Brick-or-Treat kind of Halloween party at Legoland Malaysia

September 30, 2016

If you know my kids and have been following this blog for a while, you would also know that they aren’t fans of Halloween. You should see how they run and refuse to look at the Halloween costumes, masks and tricks on sale at Cold Storage this time of the year.

They literally squeal and turn tail in horror.

Only recently have they been able to crack some jokes about bloody eyeballs and vampire teeth, but even then I can tell they are not fans of ghouls, ghosts, Frankies and vamps.

“They don’t exist in this world!” they would declare. “And we don’t like to see all these monster, so scary!”

So what is a mother to do when she received an invitation to head to Legoland Malaysia – yes, Legoland, the kids’ favouritest place after the Singapore Zoo and Port of Lost Wonder – to join their Halloween party?

To go or not to go, was the question.

“Maybe we will see superheroes?” Becks asks hopefully.

“If we see monsters we just punch them lor,” Nat quips.

“I don’t think it will be scary lah,” Ben says, not ever, in any way, for every Lego-loving fibre of his being, giving up a chance to go to Legoland.

So to Legoland Malaysia we went last Friday – in anticipation for a not-scary, superheroes-kind-of-a-day-out and looking forward to having Nat punch monsters in their faces in case we saw any.

And I tell you we DID NOT attend a party which was imagined by the kids like any of the above.

Here’s why.

Legoland Malaysia REALLY took organising their Halloween party seriously.

Picture Credit: Legoland Malayisa Resort

Picture Credit: Legoland Malayisa Resort

Lord Vampyre's Maze Picture Credit: Legoland Malaysia

Lord Vampyre’s Maze
Picture Credit: Legoland Malaysia

Lego building activities Picture Credit: Legoland Malaysia

Lego building activities
Picture Credit: Legoland Malaysia

Halloween inspired all round the park Picture credit: Legoland Malaysia

Halloween inspired all round the park
Picture Credit: Legoland Malaysia

Think full-on dressing up (which we didn’t because we left our token superheroes capes in the luggage in the car and Fatherkao could only joined us much later at night!), elaborate Halloween food and desserts, full turn out of monsters dancing in a parade and tricks galore, including sneaking up behind you in the dark and boo-ing the s***s out out you, like while you’re enjoying the cool of the night and have completely let your guard down. Of course,the treats, which would make the scaring forgettable because the party promises to fill each treat bag to the brim with sponsored goodies.

Halloween inspired food with "worms" and "nails" and "spiders'

Halloween inspired food with “worms” and “nails” and “spiders’

Ben, brave enough to go around getting pictures. Featuring The Perfect Father's Spiderboy!

Ben, brave enough to go around getting pictures. Featuring The Perfect Father‘s Spiderboy!

The monsters are out!

The monsters are out!

And ready to dance! See their dance vid on on IG!

And ready to dance! See their dance vid on my IG

It was that kind of party.

It was also the Kao kids’ first that kind of party.

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Legoland Malaysia Resort has been throwing Halloween parties and this October isn’t gonna be any different; in fact, it’s promising to be bigger, better and more spooktacular. I hear park hours will be extended to 8.30pm on Brick-or-Treat Party Nights (Fridays and Saturdays) and any kid who turns up in costume enters for free.

I don’t know about you, but we were sure glad to have the extended park hours for the sheer fact that the sun sets in the evening and the theme park is finally cool enough for us to function.

This is a great idea, by the way. Well done, Legoland Malaysia! Good way to beat the heat and awesome to stand under in the coolest of evenings.

This is a great idea, by the way. Well done, Legoland Malaysia! Good way to beat the heat and awesome to stand under in the coolest of evenings.

And in the cool of the day, here’s four things we enjoyed at the Legoland Malaysia Brick-or-Treat Party last weekend.

Yea, we liked it, even if it was that kind of a party, such that we partied for two days!

legolandhalloweenoct2016_kaokids-54

1. Watching other kids dress up and being awed by Halloween-inspired food and drinks

As part of the media invite and preview, guests were invited to dress up, and boy did we have a visual feast! The kids absolutely loved wowing at other kids in costumes.

Legoland Malaysia VIPs and the best dressed finalists Picture Credit: Legoland Malaysia

Legoland Malaysia VIPs and the best dressed finalists
Picture Credit: Legoland Malaysia

Ninja turtle! Spiderman! Vampire! Snow White! 

It was fun.

And funny too.

Everyone on stage!

Everyone on stage!

This won the best dressed by the way. The jumping hantu. The Chinese vamp hopping behind earned a consolation.

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Too funny!

2. Interactive Halloween Show with LEGO Frankenstein and LEGO Green Witch

What’s not to love, if at the end of the day, all the monsters can learn friendship and kindness? The thing about all the live shows at Legoland is that all’s well always ends well. The show was great in engaging the crowd and getting them to sing and dance. The cast and characters of this special Halloween show at Lego Kingdoms were funny and tickled us all to the bones.

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Picture Credit: Legoland Malaysia

Picture Credit: Legoland Malaysia

Picture Credit: Legoland Malaysia

3. Posing for photographs with Halloween-themed decor

Not fans of monsters, but now great posers when it comes to standees. The kids absolutely loved these photo opportunities. They were intrigued by these Lego standees throughout the Brick-or-Treat trail and wondering if there were minifigures for sale for their collection.

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I would buy them for sure – if there was a special Halloween minifigs box set – for the kids. Too cute!

Something to think about, eh, Legoland?

4. Getting treats from the Brick-or-Treat trail and making friends with monsters (except for Hut #5)

So this Brick-or-Treat trail that’s exclusively Halloween fun on Halloween party nights has 10 huts where a monster (read: real, grossly made-up people in costume) resides and gives away a treat when you approach him or her to collect a stamp. That is, if you’re even brave enough to approach each hut.

If you are brave enough to complete the entire trail, meet and greet those roving Halloween characters and complete activities requested of you, you’d receive a limited edition Halloween commemorative brick at the end of it all.

The Kao kids were initially pretty much freaked out after the monster parade, but decided that for the sake of getting the commemorative brick, they would brave the freaking and go trick a’treating. The little tokens of sponsored treats were indeed enticing, like getting packets of colour pencils from STAEDTLER, little notebooks from Canon, a tin pencil case from MILO, Ribena pastilles and Haribo gummy bears amongst many others; and the monsters from most huts were friendly and made sure to let the kids know that they were approachable.

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So it helped the kids let their guard down until we reached Hut #5.

By Hut #5, Nat was feeling all-so-brave and ever-ready to collect yet another goodie until the grim reaper? Dracula? asked in his sternest and scariest if he’s counted the bats in his maze.

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And poor Nat was so freaked out he bawled immediately and declared the trail (for him, at least) was over.

Which was all together TOO hilarious for me, my helper, and Ben and Becks. If you were there and you saw a crying kid that was refusing to count any bats, that would have been my son.

Thankfully, Ben and Becks were game enough to continue the trail and kept the good cheer laughing and befriending the monsters.

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The last and only "monster" Nat was willing to pose with after Hut #5. That's cos' he is a wizard who's wise and waves a magic wand!

The last and only “monster” Nat was willing to pose with after Hut #5. That’s cos’ he is a wizard who’s wise and waves a magic wand!

The Spooky Miniland Tour was what we stayed away from though. The kids really couldn’t handle the ghouls in their makeup and frightening stance walking towards them and pointing at them or randomly breaking out into laughs which terrified them IN THE DARK, especially Becks and Nat. I had to beg some of them not to frighten my kids, and thankfully, these lovely ghouls (bless their souls) broke into smiles and explained to the kids that they were just pretending.

Phew. (If you like frights unlike my kids, get ready for a frightful tour of Miniland at sunset where you’ll enjoy Lego Fun Facts and spine-tingling storytelling sessions at selected clusters.)

There was also a host of Halloween activities at the Legoland Hotel Lobby and the kids enjoyed the Three Magic Witches performance. Ben also took part in the Witch Cat Building Challenge and made a black cat in 25 minutes. He loves any Lego challenge and he made the cat from scratch following the instructions in the given time and beat his opponents.

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So proud of this boy!

We were here staying at the hotel earlier this February celebrating the boys’ birthdays which was really memorable with the entire Di Mattoni crew breaking out in song for the birthday cake cutting. This time round, it was a completely different experience and I am glad we got to enjoy Legoland – its theme park, water theme park and hotel – in a Halloweenish kinda way for a change.

It was thrilling for the kids and now with hindsight about how the characters were people in disguise, they could talk freely about the monsters, both as human pretend form and as LEGO mascots.

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The Legoland Water Theme Park was as usual lovely – no ghouls lurking around, thank God – and so was the hospitality we received at the hotel. We extended another night and returned to the theme park once more for the Halloween Party in the cool of the day, conquered more rides and basked in the atmosphere of lit Jack-o-lanterns, funky scarecrows and Lego people and “monsters”.

Bring it on, Halloween, I think the kids are a little more daring after Brick-or-Treat at Legoland now!

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~~~

More Details:

  • Brick-or-Treat Halloween Party Nights are happening at Legoland Malaysia this weekend and for every weekend in October! 

SELECTED DATES  : September (16-17, 23-24, 30)   October (1, 7-8, 14-15, 21-22, 28-29)

TIME                            : 4pm – 8.30pm @ RM85 per entry

LOCATION                 : LEGOLAND® Malaysia Resort’s Theme Park

ACTIVITIES               : Brick or Treat Trail

LOCATION                 : LEGO® Kingdoms

Parks hours are extended to 8.30pm on Brick-or-Treat Party Nights and any kids (3 – 11 years old) who come dressed in costume gets free entry from 4pm

  • LEGOLAND® Hotel will also be featuring a special Halloween Day & Night Hotel Promotion:

Booking Period: 25 Aug – 30 Oct 2016

Stay Period: 18 Sep – 31 Oct 2016

What Halloween heroes will get:

  • Daily breakfast
  • Dinner for 2 adults and up to 3 children below 6 years old (3rd adult or child above 7 years is chargeable at RM95/adult & RM50/child)
  • Halloween Brick-Or-Treat Commemorative Brick (one brick per child in room, while stocks last)
  • Day & Night Hotel Halloween activities

There’ll be many exciting activities that will be hosted by the hotel which include LEGO® Colouring, Witch Cat Building Speed Challenge, Ghostly Bowling, Three Magic Witches musical performance, Little Chef Pastry Making and lots more.

~~~

Disclosure: We were invited to Legoland Malaysia to join them in their Halloween party. No monetary compensation was received and all opinions here are our own. Including how Nat needs you to know he would conquer Hut#5  for sure the next time.

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The Forgotten Recipe, where food is remembered [Review]

August 24, 2016

I treasure the weekends a lot these days because when we’re up for it, the family goes exploring. I’m so glad the kids are old enough now and have a great sense of adventure. Ever since we’ve moved, we’ve been checking out places we otherwise wouldn’t if we were still staying at the northeast of Singapore. We’ve done a fair bit of cafe hopping at Holland Village and Dempsey already, and lately found ourselves entranced by the charms of the Tiong Bahru neighbourhood.

Tiong Bahru market was where I was in chwee kueh heaven, slurped up bowls of pork porridge and made my father queue for crystal paus as a child.

And here’s where we also found a newly opened concept bistro that’s such a brilliant idea – completely congruent with the rustic-ness of the old and new in Tiong Bahru – and which makes us wonder why hasn’t anyone thought of such a concept for a restaurant of bistro till now?

It’s called The Forgotten Recipe.

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And what does it serve?

Forgotten recipes, and good ol’ comfort food my ah ma would be proud of.

We joined The Forgotten Recipe for their brunch buffet some time ago, and were impressed with some classic dishes that brought back feelings of warmth, comfort and simplicity. I hear that the brunch buffet happens every Saturday and there’ll be activities lined up for the kids in a separate play room within the bistro.

Which means the adults can take their time to eat, or come with company, and the kids can be gainfully occupied if they are done with their eating.

That Saturday, my kids got their hands busy playing with train tracks and car tracks, and making Angry Birds clay figurines while Fatherkao and I ate took our time to savour each dish, go for seconds, and then have dessert and coffee.

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Warming up after the stomach’s filled on playmats

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Facilitated clay modelling activity

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Look, Mama. I made RED!

The buffet line was jaw dropping with its variety of comfort food and classic dishes ranging for potato gratin and tahu goreng to devil’s curry and chai tow kway. I found the devil’s curry most satisfying; the chef nailed it with its aromatic flavours and spice level, complete with the tender chicken thighs that came with the dish.

I didn’t manage to capture my devil’s curry on my plate, so here’s a mouthwatering picture, courtesy of The Forgotten Recipe

It was like being invited to a Eurasian home for a cosy dinner.

The other dish I found novel was the tok tok mee, which was a simple noodle dish cooked in flavourful broth. There’s a sense of nostalgia eating a dish like this, and it made me wish I could have muah chee and dragon beard candy and kacang puteh after eating that bowl, just like in my childhood days.

Simple tok tok mee with belachan filled with flavours to savour!

Simple tok tok mee with belachan filled with flavours to savour!

Another dish worth a mention from the buffet line was the tahu goreng. The key to a successful tahu goreng is fresh tahu and smooth, flavourful peanut sauce. Which we got – piping hot.

Would be interesting to see The Forgotten Recipe recreate versions of that peanut sauce from experienced makciks willing to share all their recipes and provide an assortment of various Forgotten peanut toppings!

Picture credit: The Forgotten Recipe (I suck at food photography. I only dig in!)

Picture credit: The Forgotten Recipe (As you can tell, I was too busy eating I didn’t grab a picture of my tahu goreng too!)

Dessert was chendol which was a sweet end to balance out the savoury from the buffet line. I’ve had better ones in Melaka, of course, but the kids totally love that there’s ice cream in it, which was a treat on a hot day.

They've got one thing right here for sure: chendol has to be eaten with a metal spoon!

They’ve got one thing right here for sure: chendol has to be eaten with a metal spoon!

And while we took our time to eat, the kids played the afternoon away, and that was how a lazy Saturday afternoon was spent in this quaint neighbourhood I have so many fond memories of. I recounted to the kids how I ate my first bowl of yong tau foo here, which came with blood pudding, and loved every bite of it (much to their disgust), and how my aunt would bus my cousins and I from Bukit Merah where she lived to Tiong Bahru to eat that, and fishball noodles, and roast pork rice, and all of what I knew to be yummy since childhood. I recalled memories of running and playing along the same pavements we walked and how this place is one of the few that make up the Singapore I love.

Time has passed but much of the facade in this neighbourhood still remains. And how apt it was to be reminiscing childhood in a place like The Forgotten Recipe – a new within the old, and created to help people savour their food memories.

~~~

More details:

The Forgotten Recipe is at 3 Seng Poh Road, S168891. Since our visit, they’ve done a couple of really brilliant things like letting you customise your own National Day brunch buffet by bringing back local delights, and launching some new fusion creations. Follow them on their Facebook page for more updates.

The Forgotten Recipe also invites you to revive old and forgotten recipes by submitting them.

It’s nice to create new memories and be involved in the process of recreating dishes that were from days yonder.

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Becks’ princess dream come true – ft. Singtel & Disney’s Dream Big Princess Academy

July 22, 2016

I have a little girl.

I did not start her life by reading her fairy tales.

She did not complete watching most of the Disney princess classics. She couldn’t sit through Snow White because the witch asking the magic mirror who the fairest was sent shivers down her spine. She was terrified of the stepmother in Cinderella. She feared Ursula in Little Mermaid. The only ones she ever sat through were the later Disney movies, namely Tangled, Brave and Frozen.

But nothing stopped her from knowing who Rapunzel, Tiana, Cinderella, Aurora, Belle, Ariel and Snow White were, and liking every one of them.

Being with girls and hanging out with them in kindergarten educated Becks about the world of princess although each of their fairy tale – how they overcame adversity and found their prince charming plus the happily ever after – was something she was unfamiliar with.

You mean, Cinderella lost her shoe? Snow White’s dwarves have names like Happy, Dopey, Sneezy and Doc? Rapunzel’s hair was cut? Belle danced with a beast? I don’t know the story, I only like their hair, shoes and dress!

Can you sense my frustration? No matter how hard I kept her away from these, she was a girl enthralled in the world of princesses. Because?

“They are so pretty.”

~~~

So you can imagine she probably had the bestestestestestest ever day in her whole entire life when we were invited to this:

She dressed as Anna from Frozen

She dressed as Anna from Frozen

Whoa. The event came complete with personal aides doing up your hair and makeup, personal butlers serving you tea and food that’s fit for princesses. The only thing that’s missing is the talking animals.

Braiding her hair and putting on clips and a tiara

Braiding her hair and putting on clips and a tiara

Bit of blush and lip gloss fit for a little princess

Bit of blush and lip gloss fit for a little princess

There were all things pink and purple, dainty and pretty, glittery and shimmery available for eating.

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Sugar and spice and everything nice

Oh my, look at that dainty satiny shimmery shoe!

Oh my, look at that satiny, shimmery shoe!

Becks was all smiles that day. She was told that she was a princess in training and by the end of the day she would be a real princess.

All ready to go for training!

All ready to go for training!

She learned from Sophia the First to be gracious and how to curtsy.

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She learned from Cinderella that it’s important to perform acts of kindness. So she decorated a cookie for her dad.

Decorating a cookie to show someone an act of kindness

Decorating a cookie to show someone an act of kindness

Every bit the daddy's girl

Every bit the daddy’s girl

She learned from Rapunzel it’s important to be creative. She was tasked to make a lantern.

Putting glittery stickers on

Putting glittery stickers on

Actually she decorated it only. I MADE IT.

Little girls would need help to secure the slots in the paper and fasten the tealight battery candle inside it, for sure...

Little girls would need help to secure the slots in the paper and fasten the tealight battery candle inside it, for sure…

She also got to meet the princesses face to face and had courage enough to go alone to talk to Rapunzel.

'Mama, let's take a picture with Cinderella,' she said. 'Come with me.'

‘Mama, let’s take a picture with Cinderella,’ she said. ‘Come with me.’

 

'Oh, bye, Cindy'

‘Oh, bye, Cindy’

For Rapunzel, she's my favourite princess. I can go on my own.

For Rapunzel, she’s my favourite princess. I can go on my own.

A picture with Rapunzel

A picture with Rapunzel

She was one happy girl that day declaring that it was the “bestestestestestest day ever!” and I had a great time reminding her ever since that day to be kind and nice like a princess. Whenever she wasn’t kind to her brothers and started her hissy fits, I’ll tell her she’s a princess and not a wicked witch.

Works wonders ALL THE TIME.

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A trained princess now

More details:

Singtel launches The Walt Disney Company Southeast Asia’s suite of kids’ entertainment channels including Disney Channel, Disney Junior and Disney XD on mio TV’s Family+ Pack from 1 June, 2013. The channels will be available in dual languages (English and Mandarin).

Look forward to the next Dream Big Princess Academy. Subscribers who sign up or recontract get a serial code to secure a slot in the Dream Big Princess Academy.

Disclosure: We were invited by Singtel for this event and no monetary compensation was received. All opinions here are mine. I have nothing against fairy tales; I am of the opinion that my daughter not read any because there’s no need to dream about ‘someday my prince will come’ or any ‘happily ever after’ because life is life and we just got to roll with it and suck it up.

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Clicking and creating – Miclik construction fun [Review]

April 11, 2016

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

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

Talk about getting a headstart, these enthusiastic folks.

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

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

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

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Boys.

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

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

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

Now, for the GIVEAWAY!

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

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

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

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We are heading to a dazzling parade!

February 16, 2016

The ages of 7, 6 and 4 are wonderful. It’s convenient to bring the kids out, and they can carry their own barang. And they are fascinated – and finally no longer intimidated – by floats, dragon and lion dances and loud gongs.

Which is why we are so thrilled to be going to be heading to Chingay 2016 this Friday at the F1 Pit Building this year.

Themed ‘Lights of Legacy, Brighter Singapore’, Chingay 2016 will bring Singaporeans together to celebrate the legacy and wisdom of founding Prime Minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew and our Founding Fathers based on the core values advocated by them. Some of the key highlights of the parade include a 66-metre ‘flying’ LED dragon, aerial performances and the biggest full-scale illuminated show.

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We are going to be awed by the lights that light up the night, I am sure. I hear there will be over 8,000 performers forming up 50 parade contingents. Woah. Talk about SCALE.

It’s going to be a beautiful night. So glad I have older kids who would appreciate this with me now.

 

Get your tickets here if you haven’t, and see you at Chingay!