The Diaperbag family.

We are the Diaperbag family. There are Jordan, Evan and Dylan (also known as Muffin) and they are fondly known as JED. We are their parents. Ondine and Packrat.

This is JED

Always playing or planning and plotting to take over the world. Always up to shenanigans.

This is Jordan, our first born

Actually she's part of a twin set. She was known as Twin 1 in-utero. She loves to draw what she dreams, dances what she draws.

This is Evan, reluctantly the younger twin

He's Twin 2 by two minutes because it took the doctor that long to find him. We don't think he'll ever forgive the doctor!

This is our youngest, Dylan (also known as Muffin)

He fancies himself the Lion King. His favourite activities are to climb, jump, pounce and roar at the world. The world is his Pride Rock.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Tooth Fairy

Muffin is growing up fast. He's shot up so quickly in the last few months that he's become gangly and clumsy. He's also started losing his milk teeth.

The first tooth he lost was at the gym. He left it on the bench but he couldn't find it after.

Tonight, he dropped his second tooth. We have been telling him, the last few days, to not swallow his tooth so that we could stick it under his pillow like the Jordan and Evan did.

Unfortunately, it was not to be. The tooth found the most inopportune time to fall out; as Muffin was rinsing his mouth after brushing his teeth. So it swirled in the sink and went down the drain pipe before anyone could react.

Evan tried. He tried to cover the hole in the sink. But the tooth slipped right through his fingers.

Muffin howled. It wasn't one tooth he was mourning. It was two. And he cried so pitifully, his usually combative brother came running to get us.

No amount of carrying and consoling soothed his distress.

Right till Evan offered him one of his own milk teeth (that he knows I keep in a container), to lay under his pillow so that the tooth-fairy would come.

Even with that, it took him another 10 to 15 minutes of sobbing, gulping and hiccoughing before he picked a tooth, laid it in the box and slipped it under his pillow. And then he cried himself to sleep.

But at least there was recourse.

Evan, the brother who fights so bitterly with him sometimes, rose to the occasion, put aside his own grumpiness and showed kindness and compassion. He did ask me to return him his tooth once we were done with it. To which, I gladly acceded. After all, the tooth was his.

So not only did we leave a note and 2 $1 coins for Muffin, we told him in the note that his big brother helped to make it happen and that he had a wonderful big brother. So we were leaving an extra $1 that he was to give to his big brother for helping him feel better. 

Sometimes, we don't give Evan enough credit. He's the oft-misunderstood, bullied, overshadowed middle brother. But he always, always rises to the occasion when it matters the most.

Like tonight, where he saved the day and was the tooth fairy through and through.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Ducks of a feather

Evan has a thing for ducks.

It all started when we bought him a duck when he was a baby. A duck blankie.

It was what soothed him to sleep, thumb in his mouth, twiddling a corner.

We used to do this thing where we would throw the blankie over his head and like Pavlov's dog, he would grab it, tumble over and stick his thumb into his mouth. It didn't matter if it was hard ground that he was going to tumble into. His ducks have seen many adventures; travelling the world with him and being thrown out the window by Muffin!

He's 9 now. He's stopped sucking his thumb but he still loves his Duck Duck. And his duck duck collection has spawned. There's the original Duck Duck but there is also Papa Duck Duck and a whole host of siblings whom he loves as well, though not so much as original threadbare Duck Duck.

But this love for ducks doesn't end with his soft blankies. Because he loves his Duck Duck family, he has a soft spot for all ducks. His face goes all gentle and full of love when he plays with them or talks to them. He loves ducks in a pond and he loves seeing them waddle around. But more than that, it has become a social cause for him. 

He will not eat roast duck. He loved the Peranakan Salted Veg and Duck soup till he realised one of the key ingredients in the soup was duck. Similarly, the boy who loves roast meat would not eat duck rice and even went as far as glare at Jordan for wanting to eat roast duck rice. 

When I told him about foie gras, the outrage radiated from him and the look of disgust was epic. "Why would anyone be so cruel?" he asked. The poor ducks or geese. To him, they are literally birds of a feather. 

It might be something he doesn't grow out of. It might become one of those quirky things that he can tell people about himself. "I don't eat duck because I had these furry duck blankies when I was a kid."
And since I don't eat shark's fin because I can't bear the thought of drowning, suffocating sharks, I'm going to be on his side for this one, despite the fact that his sister waxes lyrical about how yummy the duck tastes. 

Monday, July 11, 2016

Holiday Adventures 2: The One with the Birthday Party (2)

This post is part of a series for the twins' Harry Potter birthday party. There's too much for one post. This one is about the fun bits that everyone enjoyed. There'll be others to come.

The previous post was about creating the fun that was the party. Today's one will be the fun in itself.

There was the official fun.

The good thing about throwing a party in a gym and having professionals who work with kids all the time and love kids run it is that it becomes a party full of fun. The games were simple with a Potter slant to it. The regular gym drills that the kids do became Inter-house competition and an obstacle course became the Tri-Wizard Cup.

The parents were all pleased that their children were sweaty, got to jump on a trampoline and were made to do things that they thought they couldn't do. One of Evan's friends was heard squealing "I'm gonna die! I'm gonna die!" when he got rolled on a giant roller into a handstand which he had no idea he knew how to do. Not used, they are to being upside down and to see the ground rushing up at them.

The twins spent a lot of time laughing, being sweaty and just enjoyed their friends.

Then there was the unofficial fun.

There was also a lot of open space for them to run about outside and that they did. At some points, they resembled hordes of marauders; this pleased them when we made that comment because that in itself was a Harry Potter reference. They created Harry Potter equivalents of catch and hide and seek and that entertained them while the parents chatted after the party. It got quite boisterous when the girls chased the boys and cornered them in the boys toilet after. That was when the parents had to intervene and tell the girls that they had to stop because the boys weren't having fun anymore.

There was the prop fun.

I made some frames out of old boxes so that the kids could take "Wanted" pictures of themselves. They hammed it up and got into character. The Dreams coaches added to it when they created more photo props that the kids could all use. It was very much in line with what you get at corporate dos or weddings these days.

In fact, the twins did look a little bit like a VIP couple who stood under a banner while we inserted friends to take photos with them. They're young enough to see it for the fun that it is and be silly for the sake of being silly!

The parents' idea of fun. 

Their's was looking forward to a quiet night since the children were likely to pass out early from all the running around. 

That and the fact that we hired an ice cream man. It was one of those hare-brained ideas that popped into my head in the middle of the night and after having to Google and speak to various ice cream men in Chinese (Packrat even approached one on the street), I came away with the realisation that people really like these ice cream men because all of them were fully booked up. Thank goodness for who had an ice cream man available. 

He showed up with the cart, the umbrella and most importantly the bell. He served ice cream with bread, wafer, cups and I think cones. The minimum order was 100 slabs of ice cream and part of me wondered if I needed to bring in ringers to eat up the ice cream. 

But the novelty of having the ice cream man was thrilling and both parents and kids (whose parents allowed them to) went back for seconds. At the end of it, we had 4 slices left. The birthday crowd at inhaled 96 pieces of ice cream all in. Quite an impressive feat seeing that we had 30 kids and some parents.

I've declared that I can only throw a party on this scale once a year and only when the creative energy hits me. 

So, this is for posterity because who knows when the next one will be. 

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Holiday Adventures 2: The One with the Birthday Party (1)

This post is part of a series for the twins' Harry Potter birthday party. There's too much for one post. This one is about the creative little bits that we created to make it more Harry Potteresque. There'll be others to come.

Traditionally, we celebrate the twins birthday early in June. Having a birthday in June is great when you want to be anti-social and want nothing to do with people you go to school with. But the twins are far from anti-social. They love their friends. They love playing. And they love parties. So, having June birthdays means it's tough to find a time where we can catch a majority of their friends. This year, they asked for a Harry Potter themed party because they love all things Potter.

Unfortunately, we don't have a large backyard where we can play pretend Quidditch games and I don't have the time nor the constitution to create Hogwarts in my living room or a nearby rec room. The next best thing was to find them a venue that we could use where they could pretend to be Potter characters.

Tangentially,  they all do gymnastics with Dreams Gymnastics, where Jordan spends an inordinate amount of time. Because of that, we've gotten to know the coaches really well.  So I asked them if they ran birthday parties and they said they did.

Excellent. An open air gym with all the space in the world for kids to make all the noise they want to and tire themselves out nicely. An added bonus was that the coaches were Harry Potter fans and knew exactly what we had in mind without us needing to tell them. Or rather, they told me they had it under control and it was a surprise for the twins.

So, the energy I would have needed to actually plan the party was all humming and buzzing to do something. All that, I needed to get out of my system. I did what any crazy mother would do. Channel it into making goodie bags that looked like broomsticks. I don't care if Martha Stewart has done time in prison, she still has great ideas and it looked like something someone like me, who had failed art, could manage. Instead of using twigs, I used full-sized plastic wands that I ordered online with brown sandwich bags I pulled out of our pantry and I was off. I filled it with stickers, snacks, tattoos and the wand then tied it up with twine. Me, the one who disappointed my mother with my lack of artistic dreams, created something that approximated a broomstick out of non-broomstick material.

Harry Potter inspired snacks including Giant Pocky sticks as well as jelly beans and chocolate frogs.
I wasn't the only one feeling some creative edginess. Packrat too and far surpassed himself when he came home with invitation cards. Yes, we're traditional that way. Paper invitations hand delivered instead of an electronic one that could be shared in a Whatsapp chat group. Packrat's idea of an invite was a replica of the Platform 9 3/4 train ticket on thick stock parchment-like paper. The point was an invitation that they could touch, feel and use as a bookmark after. My only wish is that he printed more because I would have liked a couple for myself.

This image was designed by the twins' coach and it fit perfectly onto the invite.
On top of that, between him and our very creative friend, L, we had House and Hogwarts stickers for both the 'Sorting' as well as for a strip to take home.They looked very real and every door in my house is now adorned with one.

There is  one thing I love about the twins' and their friends' love for the Potter universe and that is how truly it unleashes creativity in them (there's enough of that to fill another post). One of Jordan's best friends from school took it upon herself to bake Potter inspired cupcakes. Chocolate Frog cupcakes, Broomstick cupcakes as well as two Snitch ones for the birthday twins. Even though we had store bought cupcakes for the candles and song, we ended up using these instead because they meant so much more to the twins.

Part of all the fun was actually in all these little things. They did add very much to the colour and to the excitement of the party. But I'm pretty sure I can only do once every couple of years.


Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Holiday Adventures 1: The One with Writing A Book

As part of their K2 project many years ago, the twins had to make a book from start to finish. They remember that, especially Jordan who actually goes back to kindy every year to talk to the K2 children about the book she wrote when she was their age.

Anyway, when the opportunity came up this holiday to 'write a book' at Writing Sprouts with their friends, both of them were keen to do so, though Jordan more than Evan. But he went along quite gamely and they ended up having so much fun that they couldn't wait to get dropped off in the morning. The workshop ran from 9.30 to 12 every day but they would clamour to be dropped off at 9.

I had to work so I didn't see much of what they did. But that also meant that all I had to go on was theirs and their friends' feedback.

One of the first things they did at the workshop was to learn to write acrostic poems. So when I asked what they thought about the workshop, they gave me an acrostic poem in response.



To elaborate:

They got to play games. They played charades and they played a version of Pictionary. They got to draw funny things on the board and it never ceases to amaze me how much we aren't on their wavelength. They get what each other draws. I have to look at it as a drawing and try and interpret from the oft-unclear scribbles what they are trying to communicate across. But with each other, they're so in-tuned with each other's frequencies that they get it before the unidentifiable squiggles are complete. It helped that all the children in the workshop were round about the same age so they got each other's humour. Therefore, it was fun.

Well, they now know how to write an acrostic poem. But beyond that, Edna (who ran the workshop) gave them a lot of scaffolding about how to create a story. She taught them to use story maps, mountains, the 'hamburger' ingredients to writing a story. I asked Evan if they helped him. The matter-of-fact answer was "Yes, that's how I wrote the story".

Subtext: Duh, Mommy!

Now, to see if they actually do it when they have to write on their own. 

According to them, it was good noisy. Noisy because they got rowdy when they played games. Noisy because they got to read a crazy poem. Noisy because they got to talk to their friends about what they wanted to write. They got to discuss what they wanted to write. Evan and his friend Mark decided to join brains and co-create and co-write their book. They divvied the work, chatted about what needed to be done, how to do it, how to grow the story and eventually put it down and paper with illustrations.

It was happy noise.

Neat not as in clean and tidy. Neat as in cool. Writing wasn't labourious composition. We have come to the sad conclusion that composition isn't really writing. But what they discovered during the workshop was that 'composition writing' wasn't the only form of 'acceptable' writing. Edna got them to create their stories as comics and learning how to write dialogue with the speech bubbles. I have since found scraps of paper round the house with comics scribbled on them. Not to be thrown away, I have been sternly warned.

They even got to write dedications for their books and they took that very seriously. I know that if I were a kid and I could write my every single page of my own book right up to the dedication page, I'd be absolutely chuffed too.

Evan's dedication was a bit unclear so I had to ask him about it again for Edna and he told me that it was for, in a nutshell, everyone in the family, because they were special. That was beyond thoughtful and neat, in my opinion.

Creating comics

Jordan's comic strip.

A story about Pencil Potter.

And Lord Correction Tape.

The Pencil family safe.

Why yes? Yes to what?

In response to my questions, my 9 yos rolled their eyes at me. They roll their eyes far too much. Ophthalmic callisthenics, my favourite new term.

Anyway, yes was to all the regular questions. They had fun, they'd do it again, they had a great time.

This coming weekend, they get their published books and we get to go their book-reading session.

Having written a book. One thing to check off the bucket list and one thing off their Holiday Wish List of Fun.

Disclaimer: This post was written in collaboration with Writing Sprouts. Photos are from Writing Sprouts though it's our two cents' worth!

Writing Sprouts is an English Language Arts School for kids. Its specially crafted literacy programme leads kids to creative writing and the opportunity to self publish their work. Writing Sprouts conducts weekly classes, holiday workshops, private coaching, fun literacy events and more.

It is located at 308 Telok Kurau Rd
Vibes@East Coast #01-03/04
Tel: 6247 7173