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.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Separation Anxiety

As teachers, we don't travel as much for work. When I did travel for work, I went away for long stretches but that was pre- kids. I no longer do. Packrat still does so; for conferences, courses and student trips.

So when he had to fly off to Japan this evening, we thought nothing about bringing JED to the airport to say bye. After all, they've been home with just me for close to three weeks without Papa and they were fine.

What we hadn't counted on was that Evan was now old enough to feel the loss of Papa leaving. I recently blogged about Papa being his best friend and while I knew that he was worried about Packrat leaving, it really hadn't occurred to us that he would take the leaving so badly.

First he followed Packrat like a puppy, while Packrat gave instructions to his students. He sought out Packrat to hold his hand or just be in physical contact with him. Then when he saw Packrat's luggage get checked in and he knew it was a matter of minutes before Packrat needed to go through security, his eyes began to redden. I said in an earlier post that Packrat had a good sense of what Evan needed so he disengaged himself from his students and comes round to Evan, swooping all 26 kg into his arms. He whispered a prayer with Evan so that Evan might be reassured that he would come back.

But that act of affection and intimacy set free the flood gates that Evan had been so valiantly holding back. And he sobbed as if his heart had just been broken. No amount of consolation and holding him calmed him down. He wanted his Papa.

My eventual solution to calm him down was to take him in search of supper. That however, worked for as long as it took him to finish his sausage roll. He kept talking about how he couldn't stop thinking about Papa and who was going to help him build his Transformers and talk to him about Star Wars.

I know how difficult and awful it feels when I travel sans JED and I'm pretty sure that if any of JED pulled that on me before I had to go anywhere, I would have willingly given up my plane ticket and gone home.

Hanging onto Papa and not allowing him to work. Perhaps thinking that by doing that, Papa will not leave.


The boys sticking to Papa like glue while Jordan is happy to clown around.

Hopefully the night's sleep puts things into perspective for Evan and that he will feel better in the morning. I suspect the Saturday treat of watching television will help loads. 

Whatever it is, I join him in wishing that the week will pass fast so that Packrat will be back again.



Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Courtside

Evan and Packrat went on a daddy-son date today. Jordan and I were pretty envious and wished we could have gone along too.

Alas, we only had two tickets.

Two tickets to the WTA Championships in Singapore.

And since Evan was the one in the family who played tennis and since Packrat was the parent who was free, they got to go.

6 rows from the court. And they got to see Maria Sharapova warm up before watching Monica Puig and Zhang Sai Sai (most unfortunate name!) slug it out.

Photos by Packrat

Evan's review:
"The players were cool because their backhands, forehands and volleys were so good. "

"I wished I could throw the ball that high when I serve."

"How come they can use two hands when they do a backhand?"

"I liked the one with the pink shoes."

When I asked him if he thought he could play as well as they could, he replied in affirmative.


All I could think about from the 400+ photos that Packrat shot was how nice Sharapova's legs were.

Yup, the tickets would have been wasted on me.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Clubhouse

JED have a club. It's the Secret Seven, Famous Five and Five Find Outers all put into one. Their club consists of Jordan, Evan, two of our neighbours, an honorary member who is the neighbour's friend and Muffin who is the pet dog.

They have a name for the club (which they will not reveal),  a leadership (the eldest is the Big Boss), rules (which include no sleeping at club meetings), a password (stolen straight out of one of the Secret Seven adventures) and apparently a song (Firework by Katy Perry). They plan events like dance parties on Christmas Day (obviously without consulting any of their parents) and they have a clubhouse; a little gazebo at the base of our flats. On behalf of the club, Jordan petitioned for a tree house. We told her that if they wanted a tree house, they needed to find a tree first.

We toyed with the idea of buying a cardboard house for them from Groupon and making them split the cost with us. That way, they could paint it and decorate it as they wanted to.


Then, two days ago, walking past the recycle bin, I see movers deposit a box that could fit Packrat, myself and JED standing up in it. It used to contain one of those luxury massage chairs. Now, it was just empty and I thought that rather than spend money buying them a box, this box was much bigger. The only challenge was hauling it up to our flat.

Our helper yanked while I shoved, up 2 flights of stairs and me plastered against the lift wall with the box towering in front of me and blocking me entirely.

I told JED that I looked like an idiot hauling the box up when movers had so conveniently left it by the bin for recycling. But I also told them that that would be their new club house.

JED and associated members of the club spent two days decorating it and making it their own. I helped by cutting windows and doors for them.

Then, they painted, coloured and drew. They 'built' furniture out of the padding and cardboard beams that were in the box. There was a table, there were pillars and there was a roof awning.

Evan, writing the rules of the club on the front wall.
Jordan putting on the final flourishes to her mural on the back wall.
Painting is hard work. Tea break in the club house.
It wasn't just about making the outside look pretty, there were flourishes too. "Welcome" pillars flanking the "house" and more design more rules on the roof.



Welcoming messages and warnings, side by side.

The club house. Fits five children with room to spare.

Every free moment they get, our apartment empties and quiets down because they are all doing something in their clubhouse.

We thought it was all destroyed yesterday when the cleaners came round to jetspray the corridor. But the kind cleaner had laid their 'cardboard' pillars on the ground and raised their clubhouse onto them, thus rescuing it from the great flood. 

We'll see how long this clubhouse lasts then I'll be looking like an idiot again as I haul it back down to the recycle bin though by then, the box would have been 'upcycled', from a box to a club house of sorts!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Sound of a Story

Books are a sensitive thing these days. The purists worry that the E-Book or the movie adaptation would stop people from reading the book book. I worry too, that my kids will not want to read because there are such easy alternatives. This is despite the fact that our house looks like a library and there are books everywhere.

But I discovered that it doesn't have to be an 'either...or' situation.

When we were in Perth and spent a lot of time driving, we discovered the best way to stop them for squabbling and asking the perennial "Are we there yet?" question was to put on stories for them. We had brought a set of Roald Dahl audio books with us.  And the minute we put them on, they were spell bound. We were spell bound. Packrat and I forgot to use the opportunity to chat with each other because we were intently listening to the stories of Charlie (and the Chocolate Factory), James (and the Giant Peach) and Danny (the Champion of the World) as well.


We didn't think it would last beyond the trip but they're still at it. Every time they are in the car, they ask for the various stories. We've since loaded more stories on for them. 

But it's also started them reading the books that previously would not hold their attention past the pictures.

Evan's favourites are The Charlie books though I have my reservations about the Glass Elevator which really reads like a sequel.

Jordan loves The Fantastic Mr Fox.

Both of them try to do different voices like the story tellers. Their latest is a really weird, Texas twang fake American accent like the president in Charlie and the Glass Elevator. And now, they head straight for the Roald Dahl books in the library. I suspect, it is easier for them to understand the book and not be so overwhelmed by the sheer number of words now that they know the gist of the story.

Even pre- reading Muffin loves everything and has taken to try to make James, the giant peach and the Old Green Grasshopper from play dough as well as writing the names of his favourite characters.   

 



To be honest, I never quite liked Roald Dahl. I was very disturbed at the fact that all those other kids in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory ended up sucked up, tossed, stretched and ballooned (even if it were their fault). Plus Matilda, with the negligent parents and evil headmistress! But since JED don't seem to have such reservations, I'm keeping my mouth shut and letting them have their Roald Dahl fix.

We're looking at other audio books too so that we can eventually expand their listening and chapter book repertoire.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Fathers and sons

There's always this saying that there is a special thing between moms and sons and dads and daughters. While it is true that Packrat is ready to buy a shot gun to make sure that no guy gets anywhere close to Jordan and I shudder at the thought that the boys would bring home girls that might break their hearts, there seems to be something special about the converse relationship as well.

Evan and Packrat are best friends. Without trying to, Evan has the same kind of interests that Packrat does. They bond over Mech Warrior Online, Star Wars and Star Wars trivia and all sorts weapons and dangerous/ poisonous animals they discover through Google. They actually converse as equals.

For most part, when they are chatting, I get the sense that I am sitting amongst Packrat and his gamer/ tech friends and what they talk about sound like googlygook to me. They are in their own world and Evan loves it. Often, I have seen him look at Packrat with an unadulterated look of admiration. Packrat is his hero.


And on top of that, Packrat gets him and is able to relate to him in a way that I can't. When he is upset or something has happened in school, my reaction is often an emotional one. But Packrat knows exactly what to say to him and what he needs to hear. It helps that he has been in the same position that Evan is in, in the same school with similar circumstances.

When I look at them, I see Packrat as a great dad because he sees Evan for who he is and relates to him on a level Evan gets. That's when I totally get why dads are important and am grateful that JED have Packrat.