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.

Friday, May 26, 2017

The One Where Evan Hits Balls

Both Evan and Jordan do sport. Actually Muffin as well though the twins spend a lot more time on it.

But their narratives could not be any different.

Evan is not a natural athlete. As a baby, the doctors worried because his head lolled to one side for the longest time. As a toddler, he would fall over a lot and bump his head repeatedly on the same spot. Even as a tennis player, he is no where as good as many of the kids in his age group.

And that makes it hard for him.

It means that he has to work doubly hard to do what comes naturally to some and sometimes, it gets very disheartening. 

It means that there are some coaches that don't like that he isn't a ready made player, who has natural ability. They would yell at him because his footwork isn't what is to be expected of a 10 year old who plays x number of days a week. These were the coaches who would make him cry in frustration.

It means that in a team, he might not be seeded very high and might not get picked to play because he might weigh the team down.

But does he try. Try very hard, he does.

He works till rivets of sweat run down his face and he can't lift his feet anymore. He's learnt to be consistent while he works on power. On the days he doesn't play, he goes running with Packrat and is attempting the jump rope.

We do our part by putting him with coaches who will affirm his effort and encourage him along. We stay away from the coaches who only see him for what he is not. That isn't helpful, to anyone.

In his first ever league tournament, he knew he wasn't seeded very high and every time he played, he tried very hard and tried to make it count. When he couldn't kill the shot, he rallied till the opponent made a mistake and he always took stock of the players he played with. He learnt very quickly to place his shots out of reach of his opponents. And in that way, he won more points and in some of the matches, ended up carrying the 'higher' seeded partner he was playing with because his parter, while stronger was more inconsistent with his shots.

The day of the finals, when he helped the team place well, was a vindication for him; against the managers who would leave him out of line ups, against the coaches who thought him crap and even, to some extent, against us, for the times that we rolled our eyes at his seemingly uncoordinated ways.

I told Evan, the one thing I truly admired about him, is the fact that he's a cool cucumber. He looks cool on court. He doesn't let the stress get to him and he just goes on placing the shots where he needs to. When we commended him on being cool, he exclaimed that he was nervous as heck. That, I told him was excellent, that he doesn't let the nerves get to him. I told him the analogy was to be duck like; gliding along the water as if nothing gazed him  but actually paddling furiously underneath, away.

Someone said to us that Evan is probably learning more because he's isn't naturally gifted and things don't come easy to him. And like pediatricians used to tell us, as long as the milestones are achieved, it isn't about who gets there first.  It'll come in good time and he really is getting there. 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Anti-List for the holidays

The exams are finally, finally over for the twins. Jordan finished much earlier but Evan's drudgery only ended yesterday. Coincidentally, I was asked to write a piece about holidays activities. I thought about it and Packrat and I are pretty much of the opinion that JED, having relatively busy school days should be allowed to do nothing during the holidays. There is a great amount of value in giving them time to be bored.

So our default is to let them come up with their own games , read, go to the library, hang out and go downstairs to muck about or to explore new parks. And oh! Evan has asked for us to go back to Willing Hearts to do some work there. That, we'll definitely do at some point this June.

There. Done.

But I don't think that was what I was asked to write about though.

And honestly, there have been times where we've needed to park the kids somewhere so as to not drive their care-givers crazy while we were away or because they really wanted to learn something new.

So, the list that I'm sharing is of places that JED have tried before and have had quite a bit of fun with.

a. Art camps
A big hit even at this point with the twins being 10. There's always joy in mucking about with paint and creating something from it. We have excellent pieces on our walls courtesy of these art camps and it brings JED so much joy from being able to see their work on the walls.

We've done a few and some are better than others. We did one where I was told the kids weren't listening to instructions and painting it as they were told. We never went back there again even though it was close by us. We have however gone to heART Studio many times over even though it's further away. Their holiday programmes are by the day so it's great if you want them occupied for a couple of hours; though I'm tempted to sign Muffin up for the 2 day Dinosaur one.

b. Science camps.
I've heard that the BASF Science Labs for June are all filled up already and science camps are a whole lot of experimenty fun. The one that we really liked and we sent them to while we were away was a Discovery Vacation Camp which was a 5 day full day camp where they did experiments, went on field trips and actually learnt stuff they remember till today. The only thing about that was that Jordan said she felt homesick. Because it was longer than the typical school day. But that said, she remembers it fondly and they went as a big group of friends so it was a lot of fun.

c. Writing camps
Though only the twins have gone for writing camps, Muffin remembers fondly the time he sat in one with the twins. This was Monsters Under the Bed's Monsters HuntINK camp a few years back. I think at that point, they were still too young for it but they talk about the hydra and the medusa that they learnt about during that workshop. And then, there was the workshop they did last year, where they wrote and published their own book.

They would be happy if I sent them back to any of the ones above but what they really really want to go for is a building workshop where they learn coding and creating games because that's often what is on their minds these days. Evan got his hands on a flyer for the Tink Tank one and has cancelled off the ones that he's learnt in school like Scratch and decided that he wanted to do the MBot and Sphero one. Muffin is keen because he knows that Sphero built the BB-8 we have rolling around the house, though I cautioned him that it wasn't what he was going to build in 2 hours there. Jordan was torn between that and another workshop called Little Bits where you learnt to work with circuitry but Packrat said if they were going, they were ALL going to the same workshop.

There. A list. Of what I would do, what they could do if I gave them the chance to and what they really really want to do. 

All I can say is, I don't really care what we're going to do. I'm just ecstatic that the exams are over and we can do everything we want to or choose to do absolutely nothing.

Friday, May 12, 2017

BASF Science Lab 2017: MuffinThe Young Scientist

JED love science.

They love science experiments which we used to do a lot of even before they started proper science in school. When they were able to read and we inherited a whole bunch of kid science magazines, they devoured it and there were magazines all through the house. All. Over. The. Place.

I credit the science programme they did in kindy for this early curiosity and I love that they surprise me with random bits of information.

To be honest, I'm not entirely sure if it helps them in school but the point is in the fun.

It's Muffin's turn to be mad about science.

His favourite things about science.
1. Experiments.
The most fun ingredients for experiments are baking soda, detergent, vinegar. Lots of fizzing, lots of foaming and very very clean bathroom floors after that.

2. Muffin also loves Bill Nye the Science Guy. Bill Nye is irreverent, physically comedic and makes it over the top hilarious. There's an episode on life cycles that he loves and watches ad nauseum and chuckles when Bill Nye goes "Birth, Life, Death!"

3. Science magazines and books
All over the house, there are science comics and books. And when I mean, all over the house, it is everywhere, under the bed, under the pillow, in the bathroom, all over the dining table, everywhere. But he's constantly reading, thinking and popping up with weird questions that I now deputise his brother and sister to deal with.

4. More experiments!
We sometimes get the opportunity to go for science camps and labs. The twins went BASF Kids Lab last year and we brought Muffin too but he hid behind Packrat most of the time. He was intimidated by his siblings being there and able to answer all the questions, he was intimidated by all the older kids there that he didn't want to do any of the experiments.

This year, we were invited to the preview again. Since it was smack in the middle of exams for the two who actually do study science, I sent Muffin alone with his friend. Out of the shadows of his siblings and with his trusty best friend, the two boys had a rocking good time.

They got to dress like researchers, they got to record their findings and make oobleck (which is ALWAYS ALWAYS fun) and they got to meet Dr Bubbles; who in Muffin's opinion was Bill Nye!

Dr Bubbles a.k.a. Bill Nye!

Muffin wants to do the Discovery Science Camp during the June break like his siblings did. I'm saving that one though, when I need him in 'day-care' during a vacation and this June, we don't need that yet. He's also advocating for the BASF Kids' Lab to all his friends because he discovered there's a repeat session of what he did in June. This child, if he can't be a scientist, can sell things next time. Quite the marketer. 

So for those who have sciencey kids and want a day of science activity during the coming break, sign up and make oobleck and meet Dr Bubbles!

These spots go fast though so make like the wind and sign up.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Small Business Enterprise

Jordan's exams are over. The semi-pall that has shrouded our house for the last few weeks has lifted. Somewhat.

Somewhat because Evan's exams aren't over yet. But it isn't stopping them from celebrating.

For Evan, any opportunity to play is a good thing. For Muffin, he is celebrating the fact that his play mates are free to play with him and he doesn't have to do work just so that his siblings don't complain that he is too free.

First order of business, was to literally, set up a business. Or rather 3 businesses.

Each kid decided on a business they were about to start.

Each kid came up with a business model including pricing, opening hours and rules and regulations.

Jordan set up a music school that promised that anyone could be a musician.
Evan set up a photo studio with his business partner, Eevee. 
Muffin was setting up a spa. He was CEO. Jordan was the massage therapist.

Working hours took into consideration school hours. Obviously, they weren't giving up their day jobs for this.

Their family benefits were great.  We got discounts and there were always freebies for those hapless enough to engage their services.

So we came home to signs on their door last night declaring their businesses closed for the day and early this morning, the sign had changed.


We found out that they subscribed to the belief that the 'early bird catches the worm' because they were all up at six this morning, voluntarily, for a business meeting before their businesses opened for the day.

Unfortunately, they didn't take factor in the size of their consumer base so there wasn't a lot of business to go around.

That didn't fuss them much. They closed early and went to the park.

 Their jobs certainly afforded them a great amount of work-life balance.

Monday, May 08, 2017

The Running Man

 There's been a bug going round the house.

But it's the good sort of bug. It's a running bug.

Packrat runs a great deal. He runs to work out. He runs to clock steps. He runs to hatch Pokemon eggs.

And there is some truth about modeling behaviour because now JED want to run. Especially Evan.

He may not be as fit. But he makes up in terms of doggedness. So slowly but surely, he's running.

It's as good a time as any to pick up running. After all, the twins have to run 1.6 km for school as part of their physical fitness test.

So they've been going out at all hours. I came home once in the middle of the afternoon to a relatively quiet house. When asked, both Jordan and Muffin said that Papa and Kor Kor went out for a 'run/walk' even though it looked sweltering out.

Packrat makes it fun for Evan. He lets Evan hold his phone and walk his Pokemon eggs, lets him catch whatever Pokemon pop up. They talk about how to run more efficiently and Packrat sets him small goals that make running much less daunting i.e. Run till the next traffic light. Run 4 lamp posts down. Run to the next bus stop. And the next thing Evan knows, he's completed 2 km without looking his lungs actually exploding.

Occasionally, the other two and I join in and we sometimes run to the grandparents' for dinner. But it's been pretty much a father-son activity and I'm happy to keep it that way.

I might have been the runner in a previous life but I don't like it as much. Running used to be our thing. But because my back's not been great and truthfully, because I've become lazy, I don't run as much. I did, however, agree to run the Star Wars Run with Packrat last weekend. The problem was that I had plain forgotten that we were doing the 10 km one. This left me scrambling as if it were a last minute exam I had to cram for. Unfortunately, lungs and legs don't work in the same way. And few people I know can run a 10 at a drop of a hat.

I survived it after running every other day for the last two weeks but looked like crap after that. I think I wanted to vomit at some point. But that would have been embarrassing. Packrat, on the other hand, looked a whole lot more chipper than I did and he talked about bringing Evan next year for the shorter run.

I think he's found his new running partner. I'm okay with that. I think it's also for the best.