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.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Time Travel

Recently, I found myself in Tanjong Katong Road. I used to live there. In my grandmother's house. It no longer exists, that pre-war house that withstood Japanese officers requisitioning it and then my mother's family and every single one of my cousins from mum's side living in it at one point or the other. It saw through my teen years, my great-grandmother's, my grandfather's and then my grandmother's funeral. After which, it got sold off in accordance to her wishes.

I haven't been back in the area since we moved out, shortly after the photo below was taken. That was a good twenty years ago.
One of the few old and yellowed pictures I have of our front porch with the jade green tiles.
And because I had time, I decided to have a look around and I knew what I wanted to check out. I didn't want to walk down the street to where our house was because that would make me too sad. But there was a news agency that I had in mind; that my brother and cousins used to hang out in. They had the best magazines and every year end, we would buck tradition and buy our school textbooks from there rather than the school book shop. The owners of the news agency knew exactly which Literature book you were doing if you told them what school you were from. They would also dig up for you the accompanying guides. It was also filled with stationery and many students, myself included would stand ther and almost covet. On top of that, it was air-conditioned, something rare for a street shop during that time.

I saw it from across the road and the washed out signage was a clue to it having seen better days. But even that didn't prepare me for the half a store that still existed, packed to the rafters with toiletries, instant noodles and then shelves of dusty stationery, nary a text book, guide book or magazine in sight despite its declarations on the awning.

It looked darker and smelt mustier than I remembered it to. Obviously, the owners were older and whiling the time away but were suspicious about how I seemed to be lingering aimlessly. They did tell me very clearly that I wasn't to take photographs. So all I have is the photograph I took from across the street.

For old time's sake, I decided to buy some stationery; some coloured permanent markers. When I was paying up, I realised that even though I was doing the same thing 20 years later, it was not for me but for my daughter.

And that partially blew my mind.

While the place still existed, it was different from what I had pictured in my mind. The store and myself, we are now in totally different places in our lives. And sadly, I had outgrown it and I had to say goodbye.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The club

The twins have two neighbours whom they have literally grown up with. One is a year older and the other was in their kindy class and now is in the same school as Jordan. Sufficed to say, they are thick as thieves and are often up to no good. They also treat each others' home as their own and one has even stayed over even though her house is a corridor and a lift ride away.

Their new thing is the night walk. On Fridays, we bundle them all up into the car and set them free somewhere they can use their torches and come up with stories to scare each other with. Last time round it was a nearby park connector and last night, it was the Botanic Gardens.

What amuses us is how their play and interaction with each other has changed, Muffin included. Where it was once parallel play, their play is fully interactive, imaginary and plot based. And during last night's walk, the older four have decided that they all belonged to a club and part of what they did was to find 'suspicious' things during night walks.

When I overheard the hushed discussions about the club, the thought in my head was 'how they have grown up.' Some of my favourite books growing up were about children who had secret clubs with club houses and passwords. And now, the twins were old enough to form their own.

They haven't figured out the manifesto of the club but it does have a name; the Neighbour Adventurers. They have however decided that there shall be a club house, there will be a password and the club house will be a tent or made out of boxes. In the clubhouse, there will be games like Uno, chess, checkers and there will be tables and chairs. But that's about it. Whether they are going to solve mysteries or go on adventures or basically just be busy-bodies, we don't know yet.

Time to start them on Secret Seven, Famous Five, the Five Find-Outers among other books.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Conversations in the dark

There are nights where I work late. That means I miss my favourite time with JED; I don't get to get them to sleep where we, read, we chat and we chuckle till we (myself included) fall off to sleep. They are used to it and willingly kiss my goodbye and goodnight when I leave the house. Sometimes I come home to surprises like this, hanging on my front door.

And sometimes, I am met with the sight of JED sleeping in hilarious pose worthy positions.

And it makes me smile but it makes me wistful for having missed bedtime.

What helps it is when my alarm goes off in the morning and I stumble out of bed to turn it off then amble over to JED's room and climb into bed with them for the next ten minutes. This morning, Evan was actually up when I lumbered over and we cuddled and started chatting about the day ahead. I found out that he had discovered 'chee cheong fun' from a friend and knew enough to ask him which stall it was from and how much it cost and went and got it. He declared he liked it, especially with the little sesame seeds on top. Little victories.

I'm glad for that little ten minute conversation in the dark this morning. It wasn't much but it helped me touch base with him and it didn't just put me in a good mood, it put him in one too.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Pen pals

Evan has a classmate who has been ill and away from school. Evan talks about him a lot. He's been concerned about the boy, talking about him, asking us to pray for him and asking me to ask his mum about him. At the end of the day, Evan's really sweet and empathetic and we love him for that.

Anyway, I've been in touch with the boy's mum and the boy's been feeling very isolated. His world has been reduced to the hospital ward and he's weak from a lot of the treatment. As a result, he's been feeling very down. Plus he can't have visitors.

So, I asked Evan to be his pen-pal. Not surprisingly, Evan had no idea what or who a pen-pal was. We explained it to him and while the intention was always there, we were always too busy to write to the boy. Then, a very close friend posted this on Facebook.

"Talking about growing up in #Singapore in the 80s ; the 20ish journalist asks, "So how did that whole penpal thing work?" #feelingmyage"
And that got me thinking that JED would grow up the same. They wouldn't know use pen and paper to write letters, mail letters and wait for responses. I remember thrill was receiving something in the mail. The thrill is gone because much of what I receive are bills and I rather not open them. But for them, their bills still come to Mommy. So at this point, mail ought to be something fun for them.

Eventually, we did get down to doing it. He put a lot of effort into it and he wrote a letter which was full of information. It's also helped him feel a bit more at ease because he knows that he has done something that would make his friend feel a bit better.

My hope is that they will  keep this up for a while. It'll help his friend establish some contact with people on the outside; it'll help teach Evan patience; he really hates writing and the only thing worse than that is long pieces of writing. 

And since they love listening to stories about what we used to do as children, this fit right in with it. Their fascination right now is that Mommy knew someone from Denmark and it wasn't The Little Mermaid.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Sick or just pretending?

While I was in school, I had heard of friends who would go to all lengths to be able to skip school. It included drinking scalding Milo before heading into the doctor's office to simulate a fever to reading up symptoms of ailments so that they wouldn't get caught out. That, together with all the students I used to see ducking out of school with a myriad of excuses that sometimes bordered on the ridiculous have made me a suspicious teacher and an even more suspicious parent.

The twins, at P1, thankfully aren't that conniving yet; but they would occasionally try the vomiting, stomachache and headache way out of school. Usually if it is a single symptom without any others to corroborate it, I insist that they still go.

Two days ago, Jordan came home from school claiming she had a headache from sitting on the side of the bus where the sun came in. This came after declaring, the night before, that she didn't like Tuesdays because it was a long day. Put the two events together and it was a recipe for skepticism on my part, especially when her headache got significantly 'worse' as Grandma showed up.

That night, however, I ate my words because the headache had manifested into a high fever that would not break, regardless of what we threw at it. This followed into yesterday with Jordan becoming increasingly lethargic as the fevers grew increasingly hotter and increasingly resistant to any sort of fever relief medicine.

By then, there was obviously no doubt in our minds how ill she was and we worried about dengue or a more severe viral infection of sorts. And by then, I felt extremely guilty for having doubted that she was ill to begin with. I wouldn't have done anything different since I did pull down the blinds, let her have a lie-down and even a spoonful of paracetamol to make her comfortable. But I had done that with more than a modicum of disbelief and as I watched as whimper and writhe in her sleep battling fever dreams, I felt inordinately bad.

On the way to getting blood drawn.

Bruise site. She shed one tear.

I don't know what the moral of the story is because more often than not, JED will try to pull this again. I suppose I could use this as a cautionary tale, that if they complained too often, when they did indeed fall ill, it would take me a longer time to help them. But for me, the mommy radar really has to sieve out the malingering excuses with the true declarations of discomfort and if I get it wrong, it's not the situation report that will kill me, it's the guilt.