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, June 11, 2015

A giving sort of birthday

The twins' birthday aren't till the end of June but they like doing a thing with their friends. Unfortunately, the thing about having their birthdays during the holidays is that there isn't ever a time where all their friends are around. The solution: to do something before everyone goes off on vacation.

Term, however, ends a good month before their birthday and it does seem strange and artificial to me to celebrate that much earlier. Eventually, the consensus was to do a simple small early- birthday play date with their friends. Nothing elaborate; just pure, unadulterated fun. Not exactly a party.

At the same time, we've been talking to the twins about learning to not covet and how there will be no end to wanting mountains and mountains of toys. We've also been talking to them about helping and the responsibility to others. Helping others who have less. Helping others who need help. Add to that, we've gotten to the point, with JED, that birthdays and Christmas are met with dread because of having to sort out the presents that they get.

So, the eventual party was a swim date where each twin invited 8 friends with dinner at MacDonald's after. There were no goodie bags and no cake; we bought everyone a simple water canon to play with and they could take it home at the end of the day. They played till the water park closed.

And after talking it through with the twins, we decided that we would ask their friends not to bring presents but to bring a donation that would go to Nepal. The twins had heard about the earthquake in Nepal because for a time, that was all that was on the BBC, ad nauseum. To contextualise it, we had shown them pictures of the destruction and talked to them about what they thought the Nepali people needed.

It truly became more of an end of term bash with an occasional reference to the twins' birthday since there weren't balloons, banners and cake with only the small occasional present from parents who thought the twins might still want something tangible for themselves. The biggest thrill for them came when breaking open their home-made donation box and counting the money in it. While there was a great amount of exclamation about how much money they had counted (we raised an even $1000 from their friends!), not once did they ask for that money to be spent on them. Yesterday, we finally found the time to take them to the Red Cross to donate the money. They fought all the way there. Both wanted to hold the envelope. Both wanted to present the money for donation. Both were thrilled when they got the receipt for having donated $1000. 

In the recent week or so, we wished that we could have donated the money to the guide who lost his life trying to rescue victims in Sabah or the local teacher who also lost his life in Sabah as well. But because Nepal was what we had told the twins' friends and their parents, we honoured our commitment and donated it to Nepal. This was once again something we had to explain to the twins. Jordan had asked if the money could go to Sabah when she heard about the tragedy and the children who had lost their lives. We explained that while we wanted to, we had already promised that money to Nepal and we would donate to the Sabah victims separately. Evan's remark was an insightful and telling one- there are so many people in the world that really need money.

Yes, indeed.

If I had a birthday wish for the twins, it would be that we would be able to do this every year with them, now that they are a bit older and able to understand their obligations to the wider world out there.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

The bigger person

Today, I looked at Evan through new eyes.

We've always known that he's a gentle soul and recently, we were wondering if he was a little bit too gentle. He's at the age where the boys rough house a lot but he doesn't and stays away from those that do. He claims he doesn't like those who play rough and are aggressive.

But after today, I've decided I'm going to leave it because he's a better kid than that.


A pair of girls teased him. He wasn't happy and came to tell me. I told him to ignore them. They continued to tease him. So he took a jar of fake insects and tossed them in the direction of the girls. One of the girls retaliated and hit him really hard. That was when we had to step in.

Girl's dad demands she apologises for what she did. Girl refuses. Girl's dad calls Evan over.

Evan goes over, reluctantly.

Girl's dad invites Evan to hit her back. As hard as he wants too, since she wouldn't apologise.

Evan shakes his head, whispers 'no need', holds his head up and walks away, despite repeated invitations to hit back.

Girl's dad points out to girl that was the right way to behave, that instead of escalating the situation, he turns his back to it. Girl hangs head in shame and cries.

She comes up later on and whispers an apology to Evan, by which time, Evan has forgotten and forgiven her.

- End of Scene-

So proud, my heart could sing.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Playing with Dirt

JED are coughing. Badly. And to be honest, it was my fault.

2 weeks ago, I sent them out of the house because I wanted to take a nap. It started to rain when they went down to play. And instead of coming up, they went on playing in the rain. First with boxes that they tried to shelter themselves with and when the boxes got soggy, all the pretence of caring went out the window.

Of course, I got into a lot of trouble with the maters for having got them sick. But they all came home wet, freezing with a sparkle in their eye.

I like them doing that. Not the getting sick but the other thing. I think they don't get to do it enough. My childhood memories were about walking in huge drains in my apartment complex and ending up somewhere totally obscure and having to find my own way home. I harbour memories of great resentment because my brothers used to go out in the middle of the night to walk in the cemetery with torch lights- without me. I felt I was missing out. Their excuse, our mother would have killed them if they brought me.

It's easy not to do that. The grand maters are full of fearful tales of abduction, outrage of modesty and that the world is full of bad people. They aren't allowed to take the lift up themselves and they aren't allowed to be downstairs on their own. Part of me is fearful, conditioned by them. Packrat does a great job insisting that I chill and let them be. It's not easy. It's easy to err on the side of bubble wrapping JED.

In our world, it's easy to stop them from going near anything dirty, smother them with sanitiser and regale them with cautionary tales of danger and accidents.

But even I know that it's hypocritical for me to behave that way. One day, on the way home with Evan, I stopped short and stared at, what was to him, a bush. He tugged me along but I wouldn't budge, staring at some leaves. Then I pointed out to him two leaves, stuck together and told him a spider lived inside. He didn't believe me till I gently pulled the leaves apart and there, cowering inside, was a very pretty black spider with silver stripes. He asked me how I knew that there was a spider there and when I explained to him that spiders made homes in leaves and I hunted them when I was young, he was suitably impressed and wanted to know how to do it.

The twins go out of the house on their own quite a bit and they know they have to look after Muffin if he goes along. They're usually somewhere down the corridor and downstairs playing. They know not to go anywhere near the road and they have made friends with other children in the block. They come home with treasures of swords, light sabres, spears (long sticks) and cannon balls (coconuts, don't ask.). They come back dirty, sweaty and grubby.

My plan for this holidays will be fewer paid workshops and camps and more 'free range' fun. After all, I have read too much about how the cleaner our kids are, the lower their immunity is to allergies
(I draw my line to not bathing every day though), how kids in the woods (wild) are going to be extinct soon and the need to disconnect to ignore all of it.

Some places that kids have been set free and where I've had to stop myself from actively cringing and stopping them from playing how they want to play.

1. The Green Corridor. Lots to explore. Wild chickens, squirrels, forget me nots and thick vegetation. Sticks, whacking the bushes and raising an army of insects. Only thing that is necessary, industrial strength insect repellant for the commando mosquitoes that attack in packs.

2. Botanic Gardens. 
JED know Botanics like the back of their hand. But they always find new things to do there. I'm just the driver. Recently, they spent a good hour at a spot they love, first picking out leaves and sticks from the water and stirring up the mulch from the bottom of the pond then sticking their hands into the water to try to lure fish into their hands with fish food. Evan's thrill of the day was when a fish swam into his hand and he badly wanted to close his hand around it but was worried he'd crush it. I wanted to stop them, every one of them. Dirty water. Hands in mouth. Salmonella. 

3. At home and at grandma's.

We just leave them be. Especially at Grandma's where there are flower beds, soil, drains and lots of pails set out to collect rain water. Sometimes, there's the sloshing of water, sometimes there's the sound of a shovel or their bare hands digging up the ground and sometimes there's just a lot of clomping around. Occasionally, they end up doing chores (without our asking) where they sweep up leaves in the driveway or wash the driveway or windows with collected rain water. They come in grubby and they come in wet.

I don't make many comments about it except to tell them to change out of their wet clothes, wash their feet and hands.

That's the one thing I can't quite bring myself not to do yet; to ignore the fact that they have dirty, gross hands. 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Captain Kantang

Kantang means potato.

Evan is a total kantang. In every sense of the word.

We met with his teachers today and no surprise that the subject he struggles most with is Chinese and the teacher basically told us that his biggest problems are comprehension and sentence construction. No surprise once again. We're told the old adage; read to him, expose him, speak to him, let him watch Chinese stuff. Basically, as the teacher very succinctly and hysterically put it, 'no input, no output.'

Basically, he's living up to the expectations of him being totally anglo. In other words, kantang.

The local phrase for someone who is Asian but is totally anglo. Because the anglo-white stereotype is one where many potatoes are eaten.

And once again, that's Evan, described to a T.

He does love his kantang. If I let him, he would eat it every meal of the day in any form. Shepherd's Pie, hash brown, mashed. Cubed and fried Asian style with carrots and minced pork atop rice.

There's no convincing him that it's high carb and he should cut down on it.

It explains the chubbed up version of Evan.

And since he was home today while we were waiting in the sweltering heat to see his teachers, it was perfect time for him to learn to cook his favourite kantang dish.
Happy is the boy who has his kantang.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Exams are over and it's PLAY time! - A review for Kaboodle Kids-

The exams are finally over! Finally. We don't know how they did and we won't know for a while but for now, it's time to go a little bit berserk. The house is flooded with Young Scientists magazines and there is Lego and Magformers strewn all over. The noise level is also decibels higher.

But they deserve the break.

As a treat, I packed them all off one afternoon Kaboodle Kids one afternoon. It's an indoor play gym at Big Splash. Actually, I wanted to go more than they did. I was curious about it because it was a play gym unlike any other and that in itself piqued my interest. Here are 5 ways it was different.

1. It was all blue. Unlike other play gyms that are a cacophony of colours which sometimes assault your senses, this just had blue bits. Lots of blue bits.

2. And they truly were just bits. No ready made structures. There were no slides or ball pits (though you could technically build your own ball pit). All the bits fit and connected to each other. So it was up to JED and their friends how they were going to build stuff. That way, they built their own fun.

3. Everything was foam. Giant foam noodles, blocks, wheels, balls, everything. That meant they were light and the noodles were malleable but at the same time they were heavy enough (especially after it was built) to stand on its own. And if the entire structure collapsed onto anyone, everyone else laughed because it was comical and it didn't really hurt at all. In Muffin's words after his entire marble run collapsed onto him "Not pain!"

4. There was no set way to play. Evan spent a lot of his time building a giant spider or what I saw as a contraption a mad scientist would use to suck up your brain juices. Jordan and her friends, built a fort that became their castle and Muffin loved that the walls of the castle connected into a huge room length marble run.

5. The entire room was as messy or as built up as the children wanted it to be. At one point when Evan and the girls had concentrated all their efforts on building their structures, Muffin was racing back and forth, slip-sliding around in his socks because there was just so much space for him to do so.

We were there for a good 2 hours and it would have been longer if it wasn't closing time. The only way I managed to drag them out of there was to promise that they could go look for the chickens that roosted near the beach. I also had to promise that we would come back again.

I loved the place. Simple as that.

Primarily because
1. It was a play gym that subscribed to the same play philosophy as I do. Don't tell them what to do, just let them figure it out, do it play how they want to.

2. I could play too. I could build stuff too, me-sized and JED were thrilled because in most play gyms, Mommy's too big to follow them around inside not that Mommy would want to.

3. It was bright. There were windows all along the side which meant there was a lot of light. But that's just me. I have a thing for natural light.

4. It wasn't an entirely huge area that I lost sight of JED but big enough for them to lose each other and that meant lots of fun playing Hide and Seek.

5. It was near the beach. Anything near the beach makes me feel like I am home. That's what happens when you grow up in the East. Take the girl out of the East but never quite take the beach out of the girl.

Stalking the chickens barefoot, to be quieter. No chicken was fooled. 

The only issue I think I had with it was that there was a lot of unhappiness when other kids who had also paid to play came over and inadvertently destroyed what JED were doing. And when they got tired towards the later part of the day, the unhappiness turned into sullen moodiness. But then again, my message to them was suck it up and play with others or accept that your structures might get destroyed.

We'll probably go back again at some point and in truth, we think it'd be a great place to hold birthday parties because you get to book out the whole place and build and play to their heart's content.

If you pop by at Kaboodle Kids and mention you came by them through our blog (the Diaperblog), you'll get 10 % off regular admission rates  till the end of June.

Here's to lots of fun and lots of building.

Postscript: We are thankful for Kaboodle Kids sponsoring JED's visit and everything written here is our own two cents' worth. 

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