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, March 08, 2018

You're Not the Boss of Me

As they get older, JED are more independent in some ways. They are able to come home on the bus or train by themselves and they are able to navigate the neighbourhood quite effectively on their own. But at the same time, they're also a bit needy and a pain in the neck. Because they are older, sometimes, when Packrat and I have a bit of time at night, we tell them to get themselves to bed so that "mommy and papa can go out".

Last night was one such night. We'd had dinner with them and had warned them then that we would be slipping out for a bit after they went to bed. Then came the imperious questioning.

Jordan: Where are you going?
Me: We're going to get a foot massage.
Jordan: How long will that take?
Me: One hour.
Jordan: What time is your appointment?
Me: 8.40 pm.
Jordan: So, we should expect you back by 10pm?
Me: dots.

Muffin chimes in.
Muffin: Don't stop anywhere for a rest ok?
Me: What?
Muffin: The other night, you said you were going to the bank and it was 10 minutes. You came back an hour later.
Papa: That's because we stopped for a drink.
Muffin: Yes. You need to come back immediately. You can't stay out for a rest at a restaurant for a drink.
Papa: dots.

So, apparently, we grew up, fought the restrictions in our parents' homes and struck out on our own, became parents in our own right, only to now be answerable to our nazi-kids.

All we can say to them is "wait till you start dating, young lads..." Ten fold. Million fold.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Tiger Teacher Mom? No such thing

I am surrounded by Tiger Moms. Sometimes, against my better judgement, I try to be one too. But I have discovered that at heart, I can't be one. I can't keep it up. I've been told I don't have enough resolve to be a Tiger Mom. I'm okay with that because I know the real reason I can't be a pure, true blue Tiger Mom. 

Because I was a teacher before I became a mother and that shapes how I parent. And the teacher is a whole lot more reasonable and sees a lot more long term than the parent does.

I recently wrote something regarding my educational philosophy. 

" children are innately curious and creative and when given the right opportunities will come to love learning and that love for learning will propel them onto greater things. I have always chosen to focus on the former rather than teach with the singular aim of getting good grades. While I do agree that good grades are important, I see them as a by-product of the love for learning rather than an end in itself. My classroom ought to be a safe space for children to discover who they are and it must be a safe space for them to fail, pick themselves up, re-group and try again"

When I try to go all crazy Singaporean parent on my kids, I always end up being chastened by my better angels. I fall prey to fear and anxiety, mostly with the boys who are often careless and messy. With Evan, we saw brilliance but unwillingness to apply himself. So when it came to Muffin, I came down on him with the wrath of a Tiger Mom angered. 

To wrestle with carelessness, the penalty was to do yet another exercise. In theory, it sounded like a good idea. Get rid of the carelessness and increase mastery. But in execution, I saw how I was doing my son a disservice in the long run and all of a sudden those mistakes he was making, did not seem a big deal anymore. What I was doing, was an even bigger deal.

It had gotten to the point where Muffin would not start any work because he was paralysed by the fear of making any mistakes. 

It had gotten to the point where Muffin would cry hysterically when he discovered he had made a mistake. 

It had gotten to the point where he was fearful of the words "You have to get some work done". 

That's when I knew, for a fact, I was doing wrong by him.

As a parent, I was making sure that he feared failing just so that he would give me a good piece of work. 

As a parent, I was punishing him for trying to figure out math for himself; something he had enjoyed thoroughly up to this point. 

As a parent, I was making him fear learning because now, in his mind, testing what he had learnt had become punitive.  

As a parent, I was not giving him space to be okay with not getting it right the first time. Instead, I was causing him to become catatonic at the thought of getting something wrong.

As a teacher, I would have pointed all these things out to the parent and drawn attention to how damaging that was to the child, his self-esteem and confidence.  

As a teacher, I would have known that careless mistakes did not define the person the child would grow up into. 

As a teacher, I know that the fear of failing would limit the person the child would grow up into. 

And so, as a teacher, I would have wanted to smack around the parent who did that to his or her poor kid. 

So, Tiger Mom be damned, I listened to the teacher. Hopefully it isn't too late. 


Friday, February 09, 2018


As JED grow older, they tend to be more disagreeable with one another. It is inevitable. All 3 have strong personalities and are not pushovers. Each want their way and is angered when their way is not the preferred way of the other two.

But on occasion, we see that there really is a connection between them and they really do have a soft spot for each other, under the often prickly exterior. Rather 'durian' relationship they have.

These are moments that fuel me and give me hope especially when they are so angry they stomp on each other and break each other's things.


It was Muffin's birthday and we had a swim date gathering for him and his friends. On the day of the swim date, he came up to me to ask if I could invite his sister's friends so that she had people to play with instead of a pool full of boys.

Jordan was upset with being reminded of a memory of great-grandpa passing away and was sobbing in the back seat of the car. I couldn't get to her so I despatched her two brothers to sit and hold her while she sobbed.


Evan is the least physically affectionate. He likes when I hug him but not his siblings. He is great with words of comfort though he's logical at his most comforting. He's also calm and doesn't freak out. He will however, be a nightmare for future weeping girlfriends/ wife because he will offer logic and solutions as comfort and we all know how well that always goes down. But his logic helps Jordan see that it's not a spiraling abyss of despair and hopelessness. I'm not sure if he offers any comfort to Muffin because his tone with Muffin is often one of "I told you so". It toughens Muffin up though; he gets no sympathy from his brother and therefore knows it's not a big deal and he should stop with the whining.


The most empathetic of the three, she acutely feels everyone else's dismay. Most evident was when Evan was leaving for camp and was anxious and worried about it. He couldn't be soothed by her stories of assurance so eventually she just threw her arms around him and held him tight. I think he appreciated that. 

They also tell stories to each other at night before they go to bed. After the initial excitement of having their own rooms, they have now reverted to camping out in one room with one sibling squished on a mattress on the floor. And that offers them comfort- for the child who is fearful of some movie he watched. The one who comes home late and knows that even if she is falling asleep by herself, she can do that to the sound of her brothers' breathing.  For the other whose mind is often racing just as he falls asleep, the inane discussions the other two have help slow his mind down enough for him to drift off.

All is good in the house when we see this happen and we shore up these moments because in the next minute, these loving siblings will be transformed into Gremlins out to get one another. 

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Conquering fears

The nature of a cruise holiday is to do stuff. You have to be distracted or you realise that you're on a big floating device, very far away from land with only miles of ocean in sight. So there are choc-a-block activities for those interested.

Finally, JED are old enough to be interested in doing things. They hung a lot in the pool but at least, this time round, they were willing to try out the 'extreme' (in Evan's words) activities on the ship. It took a lot of convincing on Jordan's part to get her brothers up on the rock wall or into the surf. Both boys are a bit more fearful. They don't like roller coasters, they don't like heights, they don't like anything that will put their lives in danger.

For her, no adrenaline rush, no fun. But for the two more risk averse ones, the fears were plenty.

Rock wall:
What if I fall down?
What if the wind blows me off the ship?
What if I slam into the wall while coming down?
What if I get stuck up there?

With the I-Fly,
1. I don't like the noise (To be fair, it was loud. It was what I'd imagine plane engines sound like up close)
2. What if I get blown up and go splat on the top?
3. What if I get blown out of the chamber?
4. What if I splat on the side of the funnel? (They really have been watching too many cartoons)
5. What if I break my back?

With the Wave Rider,
1. What if my trunks fall off? (Apparently a very real concern)
2. What if water goes up my nose?
3. What if I drown?

But in every single case, their fears didn't materialise and they were ecstatic with relief at being alive after trying it out that more often than not, Evan wanted to do it again.

And now, Evan very proudly tells his friends that he rock climbed, got bounced and hit the wall coming down but survived and has some bruises to show for it.

Muffin's still less sure about it. Adrenaline kicks are over rated in his opinion. But at least, he went at it and did it.

Both, however, drew the line at circus school. Both were convinced they would fall off the trapeze and crack their skulls open.

Needless to say, Jordan was disappointed.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Up Close and Personal with animals

Once again, we are back from a long vacation. Unlike the previous one which was all about theme parks and everything artificial, spending 3 weeks in Australia and New Zealand meant the direct opposite. It was all about nature, animals and fresh air. All excellent things for the city slicker kids we have.

Since the twins are old enough, they are guesting on the blog and writing about the animals from their perspective.


Our first encounter with nature was in Blue Mountains, an extremely beautiful place with nature everywhere.
We even heard a baby goat bleating in the distance! It was actually the neighbour's pet goat. A pet goat is called a kid. They named it Juicy. That wasn't funny. And things actually got more exciting from there.

On the first night of our stay, a possum broke into the house. We didn't know how she got in, but we have a theory that she might have come through the chimney and into the fire place. Ho Ho Ho! Very Santa Claus of her! The men then tried to lure the possum out of the house with a banana. Unfortunately, my uncle and my dad spooked the possum and it ran into my brothers' room. Eventually, they laid a trail of cereal puffs out the door to lure the possum out and it worked. We were all relieved that the possum finally got out of the house! Our parents nicknamed the possum Gretel!

The next day was my favorite day. We went horse riding! I immediately fell in love with the horses. They are such beautiful, strong creatures. On the first two rounds in the bush, I had this small but strong horse called Effie. She had a white streak down her snout, and I immediately liked her. She was stubborn, like me, and had a short temper, like me. She was always  irritated with other horses. We were a perfect match!

The most exciting part was when my grandpa's horse knocked into Effie, and that immediately set her off. She whinnied and actually galloped off. We weren't supposed to gallop, but she was out of  control. For a moment, I enjoyed it as she galloped, but she suddenly stopped and bucked. Now, that was scary! I could barely hang on. At that moment, my hands instinctively pulled the reins, hard, saving me from falling off. I was so shaken, and had trouble stifling a scream. When we got back to the stables, I was so relieved and my legs were jellified!

One thing I learnt was that horses are unpredictable! My cousin's horse also ran way, but at least the horse didn't buck her off TWICE. The second I almost got bucked me off,was actually on her horse. We switched horses for the last ride and that was such a mistake. Her horse's name called Gunner. I was nervous about Gunner for two reasons:
1. he was much bigger than Effie, so I felt unstable.
2. I was afraid that Gunner would try to buck me off, and being bigger and stronger than stronger than Effie, there would be a 75% chance that I would fall off if he tried to buck me off. Miraculously, I could hold on!

Even with all the scares, it was one of the best days of my life, getting to be with these beautiful creatures.

The rest of this is going to be written by Evan.
During our voyage on the Ovation of the seas we stopped at some islands in New Zealand including Wellington and Picton, and we had various close encounters with sea creatures, including starfish, fish, rays and even a penguin! We couldn't capture the penguin or ray on the camera, though.

 My favourites were the penguin and the ducks who were all over the place. Occasionally, we saw a goose. But the geese we saw looked like they were going to bully the ducks. Not cool.

I have seen sea stars at the aquariums but I have not seen any in the wild. Or maybe I have, in Hawaii but never so big. These were clinging on to the rocks in the pier at Picton. It was also where we saw the rays and the penguin. The water was so clear and the rays looked so lazy gliding in the water.

Ray fishing is banned by law. We were told this by some boys who were fishing on the pier. They also told us that if a fish was smaller than 30 cm, they had to release it again. They caught a small fish and wanted to do that but the hook was inside the fish's belly! Jordan tried to help and then the fish fell between the rocks. I don't know if it managed to swim away. Jordan said her hands smelt funny after that. Obviously! They smelt of fish!

That's that. I'll do another one on the cruise next. We'll see if the twins try to hijack that one too.