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.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Surviving the Vacation

There is always a sense after a family vacation that we, the parents, actually need a vacation of our own to recover from the previous one. Thankfully, we've gotten more seasoned at travelling with JED and JED have become older, so it is a little bit easier. There is less of a compulsion to drop them off at an orphanage and jet off to the Maldives.

But we also do try to make it a point to make it easier on ourselves.

1. We rent self-service apartments or houses.
This meant we didn't have to bring enough clothes to last the duration of our vacation. Travelling light becomes important especially when flights land at odd hours and we have to wrestle sleeping children as well as luggage and car seats [thankfully, that (car seats) should stop being a problem soon!]

It also meant we were able to cook and not need to subject ourselves to ridiculously priced restaurant food. Plus the nutrition conscious nut in me felt better knowing what JED actually put away into their bodies. People find this troublesome and it could be. But it's was much cheaper, we didn't have to wrestle with cranky children back into the car and we didn't have to worry about them making a scene in a public place; all of which could have been even more stress inducing.


2. Not be ambitious.

We did not pack our itinerary at all. It was a ' one thing a day' type of vacation. If we were going to the beach, we would just go to the beach. The Kids being kids took a long time to move and there was always toileting, feeding and stopping for no reason to be done. Plus the kids got tired after a bit. Cranky kids meant difficult kids. So in the words of our travelling partners, where ever we went, however far we intended to travel, we would to take into consideration time back and most of the time, that meant the 'exercise cut' (using an NS term) time was usually about 3 pm so that we could get back in time to start dinner, get the kids bathed and ready for bed without too much hysterics. 

3. Keeping them occupied. 

By this, I don't mean gadgets though it did get inevitable at times. A 5 hour flight with no in flight entertainment meant pulling out entertainment stops of our own. By the 5th hour, I wanted to just sit and read a bit so we gave them the gadgets for the landing. This was also to distract them from the ear popping pressure of descent. 

Anyway, we used some of the luggage space we saved from bringing clothes to bring all sorts of distractions. Games, play dough, books, puzzles and Jordan's rainbow loom set. We set writing tasks for the twins to do in the mornings before the day started. So they would sit down and write about their day before and what they wanted to do in the day to come. By the middle of the vacation, they were used to doing that and that would be the time I would use to get breakfast for them ready.

The rest of the time, they just mucked about with each other and came up with their own games. So even though I had to be up when they were up, I could pretty much sit and read my book while they "parted the Red Sea" and kicked an odd shaped ball (a footie ball) around in the garden at the back.

4. Make them accountable for one another.
It wasn't just about making the older two look after Muffin. It was about everyone looking after everyone else. When they crossed the road, they had to be holding onto someone else's hand. If they ran off, they had to look back to see where everyone else was. If someone fell, they had to help pick the child up and someone needed to come and tell us. That meant, everyone had to keep an eye out on everyone else. Even Muffin knew to look out for his siblings and his friends and they were often a gaggle of wandering children, the operative term here being 'gaggle'. While not fool-proof, it meant that we didn't have to worry as much about where everyone was at any given time, even if we were in a supermarket.

5. Find the playgrounds.

At this age, the favourite things for JED to do were to go to the beach or the playground. So we found playgrounds for them. If in Perth and you are headed south, head to Donnybrook, the apple capital of Western Australia. It's home to the Donnybrook Apple Fun Park, the biggest free playground in Australia. All the kids loved it and we went back 3 days in a row and they never tired of it. Because we were on vacation and regular Aussie school terms were still in session, the playgrounds were empty. They had the run of the place and keeping an eye out for them was relatively easy.

I would have lain in the sun and taken a nap if I wasn't so fascinated by how much fun they were having and what they were doing on the apparatus. 

And even when we didn't feel like driving to the Fun Park, we were flanked by parks and playgrounds all over. So every day, all the kids went to a new playground. They relished the wood chip playgrounds and the open fields where they could tumble and roll around. 

By the end of it, they were wind-blown, hungry and ready to call it a day. For most days, this was how our days would end. 

No real big secrets but just the little things that made it a little bit easier for the kids and by extension us. It was by no means peaceful and it didn't mean that I didn't lose my cool with them or yell at them. But it did mean that the flashes of annoyances passed more quickly and there weren't periods of extreme and extended stress. And that meant, relatively speaking, we managed to have quite a bit of fun as well. 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Through their eyes

Many of the photos that we took during the holiday were shot on our mobiles because the twins kept taking the camera from us and eventually, they wiped the battery out.

It's interesting to see the world through the eyes and height of the twins. Someone told us how they gave their kid a camera at the zoo and the photos he took were all of animals without heads because that was just how tall he was in relation to the animals. We saw a little bit more than that though.
So for once, here's a post of them behind the camera instead of in front of it.

Jordan's photographs were mostly of the animals. And mostly, the parts of the animals. Occasionally there would be photographs of the entire animal but more often than not, they were a jigsaw puzzle of legs, heads, bodies, tails, eyes and what not.

We had more than 30 photos of chickens, parts of chickens, mostly of their legs as if said photographer was chasing them with the camera.

There were more than double that of sheep photos. 

Lots to do with eyes this time.

Evan, on the other hand, loved taking photos of us. A bit more over exposed but he loved stalking us and posing us. Mostly complete though occasionally chopping off our heads. His photographs also had a lot more background; they didn't zoom in on a particular aspect. The composition included the background.

Very different photographic eyes, the two of them.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Something old and something new

Most of our JED holidays are to places that aren't all that exotic or exciting. We tend to play it safe and simple with them because it's just easier that way.

But even then, there are always new things for them to experience.

1. Bang around a piano in the middle of a market

and have people toss coins at them. (Perhaps, begging them to stop)

2. Play in a fruit warehouse

and play hide and seek around a trailer truck. (Yes, this was under parental supervision and the truck was stationary)

3. Sleep in a basement 

where you could hear people walk over the ceiling. (Ghosts, they insisted.)

4.  Feed the fowl that they eat

and the ones that could eat them.

5.  Play in a huge open field

flanked by electric fencing to keep the cows in (the fences weren't on.)

6.  Go nuts at a mega playground

3 days in a row and not fully cover the whole playground

7. Have sheep just outside your window grazing

and fall so hopelessly in love with them that you are loathe to leave them. (Harry and Harriet are their names)

8. Take a photograph in the exact same spot

they did, 4 years ago, almost to the day. 

9. Play footie in the yard

despite 120km/h gale force winds bending the trees behind them.

10. Rough and tumble on grass
 that is 'oh so soft!'

11. Have a dog walk

all four of them at the same time.

And for us, it was just great fun just watching them have so much fun.

Friday, September 05, 2014

A slippery slope

Once again, the kids were on the issue of pets. Just that this time, they wanted to adopt a cute little Korean girl they met at the playground. They were enthralled by her and followed her around, holding her, picking her up when she stumbled. The little one year old had a following of willing helpers twirled around her baby finger. They were smitten.

They wanted to bring her home. Because she was cute. Because she was small. Because they needed a pet. Because they needed a younger sibling. Because they needed a younger sister.

To get a pet, they know that the three obstacles in the way are our helper, Packrat and myself. And the following conversation ensued.

Jordan: What if we have a dog?
Our helper: Then Kakak will run away.

Evan: What if we have a cat?
Our helper: Then Kakak....
Mommy: And Papa will run away

Kakak: What if you have a baby? Kakak won't run away then.
Muffin: Mommy, what if we have a baby sister?
Mommy: Then, Mommy will run away!

Following that, a horrified, stunned silence from JED who suddenly understood higher stakes and what a slippery slope argument meant.

The conversation ended there.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Nightmare Chasers

One of the reasons why as parents, we are often sleep deprived is the 'monster under the bed' that wreaks havoc and causes nightmares. The other reason and possibly more real reason for nightmares is the overstimulated child before bed. There is some truth to not getting them over excited before bed or in the seemingly ridiculous words of my mother 'don't laugh so much before bed.'. And sometimes, there really isn't any reason for the nightmares, they just happen.

Whatever it is, we have to deal with the nightmares and that requires us to get up and soothe said child. It is often why I end up with at least one child in our bed.

As babies, it was much more difficult to figure out the nightmares or the disturbed sleep and there was much of it.

But now that they are older, they are able to vocalise their fears and describe their nightmares. Bad dreams, as they put it, that send them scurrying between our covers and firmly wedging themselves between us, the parents. As a means of self-preservation, we've come up with ways of helping and soothing them of the threat of bad dreams. And that helps us. 

Evan has taken to asking us to pray for him before he falls asleep. He asks specifically for us to pray that he won't have bad dreams. He also doesn't like being the last to sleep because that spooks him out. 

Jordan went through a spate where her nightmares would spook her out in the day. So what we did,  in broad daylight was to ask her to draw her nightmare (Her drawings were always more explicit than her verbal descriptions). Then we told her to crush it up and throw it into the rubbish chute. After that, we told her that her nightmare was destroyed. 

We do the same thing with Muffin, except we 'pluck' the bad dreams out of his head. He tells us that he has been having bad dreams and we tell him we pluck it out of his head, actions and all, and toss it out of the window. Beware bad dream 'killer litter' being hurled out of our windows. He thinks it's funny and he joins in; we stop him when he becomes over-enthused and over-excited doing it because then it defeats the purpose. 

On top of that, there's the usual shushing, rubbing of backs and legs to calm them down. Packrat has realised how turning on the air-conditioning seems to miraculously also chase bad dreams away. 

And when all else fails, climbing into bed and cuddling Mommy really tightly seems to do the trick, despitethe fact that Mommy looks like she lived through a bad dream the next morning.