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, February 11, 2016

An Ad Campaign

One of the series of books that JED have been incredibly enthralled by is Judy Blume's Fudge series. The dad in the book is in advertising (this series was obviously written in a different era) and there are references to advertisements, jingles and selling products in the book.

At the same time, I've been meaning to make some insect repellent out of essential oils. Today, I sat down and did it while they were doing their homework. Naturally, JED wanted to know what I was doing and wanted to help. While doing that, I asked if they wanted to come up with a name for the repellent I was making. That was how it started. JED, Jordan and Evan especially, wanted to 'invent' a new product to sell (In one of the books, Fudge as a pre-schooler obsesses about how he can make money). So we started talking about how to go about doing that.

With my sketchy knowledge about advertising, I talked them through the 3 phases.
1. Create the product.
2. Market the product.
3.  Sell the product.

Phase 1- Create the product.
1. We talked about the important features of what we were doing. We were going to create insect repellent. It would be made from essential oils. It would keep away mosquitoes and bugs. We needed a name for it. They came up with Monster Bug Spray and put it to a vote. It was a unanimous decision (Unanimous, a word they learnt from the book)

Here's the recipe.
- 14 oz of witch hazel
- 15 drops of citronella oil
- 12 drops of lavender oil
- 15 drops of lemongrass oil
- 15 drops of tea tree oil

They were little apothecaries. They dripped the oils with a little pipette and Muffin helped me pour the mixture into smaller bottles. They loved the smells of the oils wafting. They loved being the testers as I smeared overflowed drops onto them. Muffin made labels for the bottles carefully including a picture of a monster on each one before sticking them on.

Once we were done, Jordan and Evan insisted we start trying to sell it.

Phase 2- Market it.

I told them that people would only buy a product if they knew about it. So they had to advertise it and convince people that they needed it and how their lives would be much worse if they didn't. Jordan suggested making a poster to place outside our house (print media). Evan suggested making a video and posting it on Facebook (audio-visual and social media) so people knew about it.


(Watch till the end where there's even a wink!)

They wrote out the ad so that they wouldn't forget the lines. I added suggestions.
1. Speak in short sentences.
2. Make it catchy.
3. Have a slogan. (I had to explain what a slogan was so I showed them Nike's Just Do It and MacD's I'm lovin' it! slogans)

I give them credit for trying to incorporate all that into the script including a slogan at the end.
"Monster Bug Spray! Keeps the bugs away!"

Then they set up the scene for the advertisement. They moved in chairs and turned on the lights. Jordan wore a For Sale T-shirt and a wink. Evan, more introverted, gamely played her assistant but chimed in with a smile here and a word there. All I had to do was video it. So I did, trying my best not to let my giggles wobble the phone too much.

Phase 3- Sell it.

This is where we're at currently. Jordan's poster advertised that our current promotion was "Buy 1, Get 2 Free" whittled down from "Buy 1, Get 3 Free" which I told them would make us no money and we'd probably lose money that way.

We're going to put up the poster on our main door to attract customers apparently. Its attraction is that it's natural and home made by the family. I'm to put the video on FB (They've learnt of the existence of FB) so that the people who don't live around us will know about it and come from all over the world to buy it. (Fat hope.)

I'm not sure how many bottles we'll sell if any. I told JED that we'd have to trial it first to make sure it did indeed keep the bugs away (otherwise our advertisements would be lying) and the Health authorities would probably want to check that we didn't put anything bad in it. But whatever it is, we have a Beta version now.

Their first product and ad campaign, Monster Bug Spray ©️JED coming to a chemist near you, all in a day's work. I don't think we'll win a Clio Award though.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Who is your favourite child?

I've been expecting this question for the last 7 years (for the years that my kids have become verbal). And it came from the child that I had expected it from. Our so called middle child.

The question: Who do you love most? Who is your favourite child?

Even though I had fully expected the question, I felt sad that he asked it. It told me that he was sometimes uncertain about how much I loved him or worried that I loved his siblings more than I loved him.

I told him that I had no favourite children because I loved each of them in a way that was special to each. I listed all my favourite things about him.

1. He is a very kind person.
2. He is a very empathetic person.
3. He is a very generous person.
4. He loves animals.
5. He is sincere.
6. He is brave.

I elaborated, giving him instances when I saw him behave in those ways and he was a little bit comforted.

But I had to ask whether he felt that I might love him less or why he felt that he wasn't favoured.

His little voice in the dark told me that he wasn't as smart as his sister and that he hadn't won as many medals as she had.

I told him that I didn't love her because she was smart or because she won medals. I told him that I would love her the same regardless of medals or grades. And similarly, I loved him and my love wasn't dependent on anything.  I also told him that how much I loved him was separate and unrelated to his grades.

Eventually, we talked about grades and how it wasn't about being smart but about knowing that whatever he did, even if he wasn't good at it, every time he did it, it got easier. I told him that's how his sister got good results and being smart had little to do with it. I also told him that I could see that he was trying a lot more this term and I was proud of that.

It's always hard when your own child wonders how much you love him or her. I know it's normal and it's part of growing up within a family but at the same time it reminds me that JED are all different and need to realise that they are loved and most favoured in their own way.

And only Packrat and myself can do that for each of them.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Missing friends

The school year has begun in earnest. And there has been a change. This time, the twins feel it acutely. It's not like the last big change where they went up to P1 as slightly gormless, guileless and very young middle schoolers. While that was a huge change, the adjustment problems were more to do with routine.

This time, the adjustment is social. And being smack in the middle of their middle school years and on the cusp of being almost tweeny, they are very affected by it. They miss their friends.

Each are in a new class. For Jordan, it's worse because she's not only in a new class, she's in a new school. Evan is almost there, being in a class where he has only 2 classmates from his previous class. So they're pining in different ways and I feel sorry for them.

Evan is constantly asking if I can arrange play dates with his friends. He's a bit miffed at how Jordan seems to be going out on all these play dates, that he isn't invited to, are full of girls and where girly things are done. He feels left out. It makes him want to hang out with HIS friends, without his siblings tagging along. I get it. I suspect that it's also an age thing. They're developing their own identities, interests and don't really want to exist in a combined life in all aspects. He doesn't really want to play 'family' with his sister or have his younger brother tagging along and trying to copy him in every way and usurping his friends.

Jordan, on the other hand, has been busy making new friends. That and the excitement of starting a new school has distracted her from reality. It didn't hit till last night, Sunday night before the 3rd week of school. This was after a weekend of one of her ex classmate's ringing her every day just to chat and another one declaring that she missed Jordan on the bus and school wasn't the same without Jordan. Upon realisation that come Monday, she was yet again not going to see her old friends, she melt down into a puddle of tears lamenting how the school hours in the new school are longer (by 15 minutes; 10 minutes of which are an in class break) and how she's homesick when she's at school. We gently tell her that there were things she didn't like about her old school either and sometimes, she and her friend on the bus fought like cats and swore they weren't ever speaking to one another again!

So, we've promised to arrange something soon with just her friends and sworn blind that they haven't forgotten her. We've made the same promise for Evan, swearing that he'll be able to go on his own, without his limelight stealing siblings.

Now, to find enough hours and energy on the weekend to do all that.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

The last time the oven bell dinged.

- This is actually a post from 5 years, 11 months and 1 day ago-
This is how old Muffin is today and it's part of the reason why I have my baby craving. But just re-looking this post also made me feel exhausted just thinking about it so I'll settle for being nostalgic rather that do anything about it.

So anyway, here's my account of what happened exactly 5 years and 11 months ago. 

For everyone who was checking in to see if Muffin finally decided to show up, the wait ended yesterday. At 39 weeks 6 days at 1426 hrs.

So, how did we finally evict him? Well, he actually evicted himself. Perhaps because he knew the weekend was coming up. Perhaps he finally got clued in to the fact that his watery home was getting a bit too snug for him. Whatever it is, he chose yesterday to make an appearance.

And we only realised it by chance.

Early Friday morning, I woke up to pee. Naturally, since Muffin was exerting a great amount of pressure on my bladder. When I climbed back into bed, I suddenly realised that the usually active Muffin was not moving at all. 30 minutes of prodding and shaking my belly didn't seem to do anything to rouse him, causing me to imagine his umbilical cord strangling him and other horrors that I'd heard about. Massively panicking, I shook Packrat awake so that he could join me in the panicking.

He being a guy, jumped into action, ordered me out of bed to change and get to the hospital. It was the only way to know for sure. By then, I'd already felt some twitches from Muffin but I'd awakened a sleeping dragon in Packrat who insisted he wasn't going to rest easy till we put on the trace and ascertained Muffin's well-being.

Muffin, being Muffin was fine. Thank God! But incidentally, the trace picked up the fact that I was having regular contractions every 10 minutes. Although the midwife and doctor (whom I felt extremely bad for, having been rudely awaken at 3 am to consult on my case) told us we could go home, Packrat asked the midwife to check if I were dilated. This was a bit of an issue with us because without dilation, Muffin was not going to be able to get out of me naturally. And up to that point, that had be not even a micro-milli-bit of dilation. Lo and behold, there was some dilation! Finally.

To us, that was a good thing and it was met with great relief as well as trepidation. It did mean that while the wait would finally be over, there really would be another child in the house to add to the frenzy of our household.

Despite being then counselled to stay on at the hospital, we decided to go home. For various reasons. One, we'd left suddenly in the middle of the night and our children would probably be distraught to wake up to find us NOT in our beds. Two, I'd heard from other mums that the worst place to labour was the hospital as it tended to either halt or retard labour.

In the ensuing hours, for the first time, the contractions got stronger and more intense rather than disappearing as they had tended to do in the past weeks. And because I was home, I basically had to distract myself from the mounting discomfort.

By the time Packrat came back to get me, it was painful enough for me to stop what I was doing. Thankfully, they only lasted about a minute or so and that was the only reason I got through them, knowing that they would only last a minute. Packrat needed lunch and half jokingly suggested we eat at the food court we stopped at. I suspect my 'evil' look is even more intense when I am in pain and that idea was not pursued seriously.

The staff in the labour ward were expecting me apparently, because when I showed up, they were like "Yes, you're Ondine. You're the one who requested to go home and you're the one who wants to be able to walk around". True, I had requested to be able to 'walk' my labour off and since the hospital only had one room with the wireless CTG machine, I had asked them to hold the room for me. And I guess they couldn't believe that I had opted to go home even when I was told NOT TO.

My hospital, unlike some others in Singapore is still a little bit conservative in its approach to delivery so there are no water tubs and birth stools. And I guess to them, I was somewhat of a maverick because I had requested to walk and more incredulous stares followed when I told them I didn't want an epidural and rejected all offers of gas. All I used was my sock of rice that we constantly asked the nurses to nuke in the microwave.

With my sock of rice, I walked, swayed and banged table tops my way through the contractions that were getting more intense as I dilated at warp speed. From the point of entry into hospital where I was dilated at 4 cm, it went to 6 cm in half an hour. By that point, I just wanted to lie down and rattle the rails of the bed as the contractions sent spasmodic pain down my back into my bum. My very cool Ob-gyn waltzed in and congratulated me for finally going into labour. He asked if I want him to break my water bag and I told him to give it a little bit more time since we weren't not in a hurry and Muffin seemed to be nonchalant about the fact that my every bit of my body was finally all working in cahoots to expel him from his watery hotel.

After he left, I decided for the last time to get up and try and walk around, somewhat still trying to justify to the nurses why I wanted the wireless CTG monitors on me. But when I did, I felt that I had actually sat on a huge water balloon that went "SQUISH" under me. Yes, the water bag that I'd told the doctor not to burst, burst quite dramatically on its own accord. Right onto my Mashi-Maru bedroom sleepers.

I'd read somewhere that bursting the waterbag was a "committment to labour" because it really would be the point of no return and it truly was. I shrieked in pain when the next contraction came. The water bag must have cushioned much of the intensity of it and since the bag had burst, I no longer had that buffer. At the same time, that elusive urge to 'bear down' was upon me and Packrat wasn't sure if I was conscious of the fact that I kept telling him that I needed to poop. Apparently, the sensations are identical.

The midwife chose that moment to plunge her fingers into me causing me to want to kick her in the face. Thankfully, the result also heralded the fact that it would be last time anyone unceremoniously did that to me. 10 cm and we were good to go. There was only one problem. The time that had lapsed between my Ob-gyn leaving and my severe need to take the biggest dump of my life was probably just enough time for him to have arrived at his clinic and start seeing patients again.

So despite the midwife telling me to push when I felt like it, I was screeching for the doctor and going mad with the idea that I had to bear with this pain because the doctor wasn't back yet. And it didn't occur to me to cross my legs either. When he finally returned, I was partially distracted by the fact that I was watching my doctor change out of his work shoes into the most unglamourous of yellow boots.

But that was where the real fun began.

He, in the calmest of voices, told me to push when I was ready. By that point, I was alternating between sobbing from the intensity of the discomfort and swearing like a banshee. Until I heard him very firmly tell me I was wasting my breath and should channel it toward pushing the baby out. He also warned me that I was going to feel some stinging because he remembered that not only was I anti-pain relief, I was anti-episiotomy and the only way around it was to administer a perineal massage to muscle that was already going to be stretched beyond belief.

My thoughts at that point I think bordered on "I don't care what is going on, I just want this extremely weird, burning sensation to STOP!" I'd clarify at this point that while it was painful in a way that being sliced is painful, there was the very real sensation of something very big and possibly alien like bursting forth from my very core. And despite that fact that I've run for so much of my life and pride myself in being physiologically aware of my body and its muscles, I really had no idea what I was doing or what muscles I needed to engage.

But since millions of women have go through it before me and have survived, I figured I would too. 3 pushes and his head was out. And these 3 pushes came almost one on top of another. Because of that, despite the fact that I wanted to be free from an episiotomy, the doctor had no choice but to do it. He said that Muffin was coming too fast for him to stretch the muscles out in time. Anyway, another half push and the shoulders were released and then another half push for the rest of him to come tumbling out.

The minute they put my steaming hot Muffin on me, I declared very loudly that I wasn't ever going to do this again. I think that broke the tension in the room quite a bit.

So that's how Muffin was born. Between my water bag bursting and him tumbling right out of me was the longest ten minutes of my life but in the grand scale of things, it was a mighty short labour and delivery.

Incidentally, Muffin's name is Dylan Josiah Tan.

And here are some souvenir shots from the birth that are totally inane.

My trusty heat sock.

The victim of my water bag bursting unexpectedly! My Mashi-Maru slippers. If you look very carefully, the right one, has a stain above the ear that Packrat, try as he may, could not get rid off.

Presenting Baby Dylan, 30 minutes after delivery after his first feed.

His very proud Big Sister who fawns over him like a doll. His Big brother however, is a bit worried about his position being usurped and is clinging on to Mommy for dear life.

For all those totally freaked out by this post and are contemplating adoption and a hysterectomy, it really isn't as bad as I've made it out to be. It can't be all that bad since I really didn't have any drugs to do it. Maybe taking out the wisdom teeth are worse, since you can't do that without anaesthetic. So there, a means of comparison!

We followed up this blow by blow account with a spiritual perspective of the birth. So for those who want to read on, here it is.

This post is part of the ‘Birth Stories’ Blog Train hosted by Owls Well

If you would like to travel to the previous stops on this Blog Train and read more interesting birth stories, you can start with this one here with Prayerfull Mum, Danessa.

2014-01-08 15.11.58
Danessa is a Stay-at-Home Mum to one precious princess. Read on to find out this mother's experience of giving birth that took place 5 years ago. Sometimes we got to be careful what we pray for ...

To read other exciting birth stories please click on the picture below.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Listening when our kids say NO.

We did wrong by Evan. And we apologised to him for it. That was after being angry with him when we were actually angry at ourselves for making that mistake.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens opened a few weeks ago. Packrat was part of the millions of fans breathlessly waiting for it, watching and re-watching the trailers and more importantly, showing it to JED. When it did open, he brought Muffin to the first show. Both he and Muffin dressed up and he was so proud of the fact that Muffin loved the entire experience.

But what he really wanted to do was to share it with Evan, his geek-buddy. Unfortunately, Evan wasn't all that keen. He gave us a long list of reasons.

1. He didn't like shows that weren't cartoons.

2. He didn't like going to the movies because it was loud.

3. He didn't want to go because it might be scary.

4. He didn't want to go because it would be too long.

We didn't give up though and we kept trying to organise an outing to see it. Eventually, Evan caved. This was after choosing to go to Gardens By the Bay, going ice skating with the neighbours and playdates over Star Wars. That should have given us a clue but as thick headed parents who thought we knew better, we ignored it.

45 minutes into it, I get a message from Packrat that it had been a waste of money and they were on the way home. When I got home, there were 3 teary-eyed children and a thin lipped Packrat. Jordan and Muffin were upset because they had been dragged out of the movie half way. Evan was teary-eyed because he felt that he had disappointed his father and had wasted his dad's money. He was seen trying to pry open his piggy bank to pay his father back the money for the movie tickets.

Packrat was upset because he felt that it was his fault. I'm with him on it. Not so much that it was his fault but that it was ours.

We hadn't trusted our son when he said he wouldn't like the show. Packrat couldn't accept it because it. was. Star Wars. I couldn't accept that because he loves watching stuff at home on television. It's his favourite past time. So how could it be that he wouldn't like watching Star Wars on the big screen? We had forgotten that it was dark and it was loud and he couldn't run out when it got scary or intense.

We hadn't respected him when he said he didn't want to go and bullied him into it. We had forgotten that we had a serious upper hand in this and could pretty much use the force to bend his will and make him go to the movie just because.

And we were both deeply ashamed of what we had done. Packrat apologised to him for not trusting his judgement and I hugged him tight and told him that we ought to believe him the next time he tells us he doesn't want to do something because he's eight and he's old enough to know himself. I don't know if he will remember this incident when he grows up but whatever it is, we hope he forgives us.