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, December 14, 2014

Cruising; JED's preferred means of vacation

The one thing about taking 3 kids on vacation is the exhaustion that comes from it. It's 24-7 of their shenanigans and often the only way to survive it is to only keep the rules that matter (do not climb the railings of a 16 storey ship) and chuck out the rest (hash brown and french fries at every meal).

But what eventually makes it worth while is how happy and thrilled they are by the experience and how much fun they had.

And if we left it up to JED, every single vacation would be on an ocean liner.

We just got back from a 5 day cruise. We've been back 4 days and they haven't stopped talking about it. Even before they got off the ship, they were talking about going on another one (to which, we asked the perennial rhetorical question of "DO YOU THINK WE PRINT MONEY?").

To the uninitiated, a cruise vacation is for the retired folk and there really isn't much to do on board. And to a certain extent, it is true. JED had their grandparents, 4 grand aunts, 3 grand uncles on the ship with them together with their cousins.

But their unadulterated glee came from the fact that there was always something to do at close proximity. It really was a matter of either choosing to do nothing (sit by the pool) or do everything (ice skate, rock climb and play golf) all in a day.



Food was never a problem. And the cruise liner we were on, did this magical thing where they made french fries taste even yummier. So, french fries and hash browns at every meal, spaghetti from willing waiters at every beck and call and ice cream and hot dogs on tap at the pool deck.

Obviously, their favourite activity was to hit the pools. Packrat would find a spot in the hot tub and camp out there to keep an eye on them (an attack of hives kept me out of the pool) and the kids would alternate between the hot tub and the freezing salt water pools till they shrivelled up like prunes or got hungry which ever happened first. They never tired of it. They swam after breakfast, after lunch, after dinner and would have gone first thing in the morning had we allowed them to.

Mayhaps it was just a JED thing but at every port of call, there were always loud protests about getting off the ship. Muffin physically panicked as we were on a tender leaving the ship for Phuket. He thought we were leaving the ship with his precious toys still on board. And even though they had fun filling their pockets with beach-fuls of sand, they could never wait to get back aboard the ship. By then, we were usually so tired of their belly-aching that we were also thankful to be back aboard the ship.

Reluctantly enjoying being on land in Penang

The lack of swim gear did not stop him from hitting the Phuket beaches and bringing aboard pocketfuls of sand. 

But it wasn't just JED who were reluctant to get off the ship when the ship docked back in Singapore. We were too. Perhaps it was the service; being well taken care of and the kids always happy with their meals. It might also have been the formal setting at dinner that made us feel that at least there were some moments that we could dress up and be adults rather than just parents; or the fact that the ship never sleeps and JED were always so knackered at the end of the day that we had time to take walks on the deck, go to supper or hold hands and explore the ship. 

Whatever it was, we are all a little bit wistful to be back on land and Evan has been hard at work campaigning that our next vacation be on an even larger ocean liner. 

But meanwhile, there's much de-toxing to be done and Christmas to look forward to. 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Holiday Things to Do: Santa School (A Review)

When the twins went to The Giving Treehouse for their holiday camp, Muffin complained. He heard tales about lava lamps, kites and trampoline parks (though he was there for that bit) and wanted to know why he didn't have camp to go to. He's like I was as a child, I wanted to do everything my brothers did even though I wasn't old enough or ahem, I was a girl.

So when the opportunity for him to go to camp, he jumped at it. And better yet, it was a Christmas- Santa themed camp, by BlueTree Education, which thrilled him to bits. There were Christmas related songs, stories, make believe and most importantly, craft that kept him busy and happy.

The most fun bits for him were always the craft bits of the day. Over the five days, he made snow men, reindeer antlers, a reindeer that they then had to hunt for when they went reindeer hunting (for the sleigh not for food!) and eventually an impressive and beautiful snow globe.

He took a while to get used to the place. I suspect it had to do with being in a younger class where most kids had their parents there and I did the 'dump and go.' But as with all things Muffin, he was okay after a while.

For Muffin, a lot of processing happens internally so it's usually over a period of time that we see the full impact of anything. It was only on Day 3 of what he aptly termed as Santa School that we realised how much he'd internalised when he started giving me 'right-left- straight' instructions in the car (they learnt directions in order to guide the reindeers pulling Santa's sleigh) and ransacked our bookshelves for snowman books. We seem to be woefully short on that front. 

What tickled me most of all was when one of the teachers sent me a picture of Muffin being dressed up as a Christmas tree. When I asked him about it, he burst into gales of laughter and told me in sputters how he had to stand still while other children decorated him. He also added that he had a star grow out of his head but it wasn't there anymore because he bumped himself and the star dropped off, like the reindeer's antler, he added.

But in all seriousness, Santa School was really well thought out and the teachers were articulate, fun and played with the kids as if their own. They exuded confidence in dealing with the little ones and I knew that, despite Muffin's initial protests, he would be okay there. And when I came in to pick him up later the first day, he was chummy with "Snowman Sock Aunty" (Aunty Diana) and liked "Snowman Hairband Aunty" (Aunty Mabel).
And the craft! I've talked about the craft. But I can't stop talking about them because they were all oh-so-pretty. This year's Christmas tree is adorned with, not just the traditional baubles, but all the craft bits that JED have come home with and Santa School Christmas-ed up our house really nicely.

So was it a hit? I think it pretty much was, especially when he got to meet Santa and Santa gave him sweets. He did whisper to me that it wasn't the real Santa but that was okay by him. Did he want to go to Santa School again? Nope. Because Santa only comes once a year, at Christmas.

That's fair enough.

Santa School was run by BlueTree Eduction, a newly established enrichment centre, offering pre-primary and primary programmes. It's run by ex MOE teachers who want to create fun learning workshops during the holidays for preschoolers and primary school goers.

I had a look at the regular programmes that they run for the school going crowd as well and to be honest, I really wanted to do it too or teach it; a whole CSI episode to teach investigative writing? Complete with a dead Barbie doll, I wouldn't mind doing that even as an adult.  Anyway, for more of their programmes, keep an eye out on their Facebook page.

BlueTree Education is offering $50 off their regular programmes (for the first payment only) for all Diaperbag readers. Just let them know you came by through the Diaperbag.

Address: 271 Bukit Timah Road, Balmoral Plaza #02-15 Singapore 259708
Nearest MRT: Newton Bus Services
Balmoral Plaza Bus Stop): 48, 66, 67, 170R, 171, 700, 700A, 960
Contact number: +65 9106 4702

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Having babies

For some reason, we've been talking about having babies.

No, not along the lines of having another baby though Muffin and Jordan have declared they want a baby sister (fat hope of that happening).

We've been talking about how babies come into this world. The actual birth of the baby. And that has spawned a hilarious set of reactions.

In response to finding out that she and Evan were born through a C-section recoiled in horror at Mommy's belly being cut opened and stitched back. She worries about the pain and it didn't help when she saw pictures of me wincing through Muffin's birth. She is a confused one, that one; declaring that she doesn't ever want to have babies but also declaring she wants a family. I told her she could adopt and she looked like her brain was going to explode.

"Thank God I'm not a girl!" I told him that if he got married, his wife would have to go through it. His response was "but it's not me!" When I told him that it was his job to be there and get sworn at, hit and hold the hand of his wife, he asked "Why would I want to give her my hand if she is going to hit me?" How male, this one is.
He didn't understand how it happened so I somewhat flippantly told him "I sneezed and you fell out of me." He didn't question me about it. But a few days later, when I sneezed, he looked at the ground between my legs and asked "Did a baby fall out of you yet?"

Like I told Jordan, they have about 20 or more years to wrap their heads around the idea of child birth. Jordan broke it down into 7300 days give or take and then proceeded to freak out because that didn't seem that long to her either.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Loose lips sink ships

Being on school holidays means that JED see a lot more of each other than on a regular school day and that means more opportunity to get on each other's nerves or in each other's way. As a result, there is much more conflict and many more situations where they tell on one another.

It is exhausting listening to them tell on each other. It's always something petty, it hasn't been anything life- threatening and it's always to get the other party/ parties into trouble with us. They tattle when they know that the other sibling has broken one of our rules. They want the other sibling to get into trouble with us. Without a doubt.

I can be asleep, having lunch, driving or at times in the bath when the petulant "Mommmy....." chord strikes.

It has gotten to the point where I ask them 3 questions with an extremely fierce glint in my eye.

1. Why are you telling me this?

2. Is someone hurt because of this?

And if there is no answer to 1. and the answer to 2 is "No one" then my next question...

3. Are you telling me this so that I will scold your brother/ sister?

At least they have enough decency to look a little bit contrite when I throw Question 3 at them and they dare not nod. Muffin tried once and he got machine gun questions to follow in ascending volume.


That's when he realised the best move was to back away slowly without breaking eye contact till he was out of arm's reach and run far away to hide.

If it weren't for the fact that I didn't need to wrestle with homework and waking up early, I would really be counting down the days till they are all back at school.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Coming into their own- Jordan

Evan's character building moment for the year was having gone away to camp with Packrat. Jordan's came in the form of the inter-club gymnastic competition that she chose to take part in. She wanted to take part in it because she wanted to win some medals.

A week before the meet, she realises that taking part wasn't really going to be enough to win the medals, she actually had to do well enough to get placed.

On her own accord, she ramped up her training sessions. The two weeks before the meet saw her practically live at the gym, going every other day and towards the end. every day. 3 days before the meet, she had a freak out melt down about not being able to turn herself on the uneven bars. She was convinced that if she didn't, she would not win. It took us an hour to talk her down from that.

But whatever she put herself through, it paid off. Her coaches told us about the focus and glint in her eye when she was on the floor and even though she didn't get a gold medal for any of the events, she was placed in every single event and managed to come in 2nd overall.


Going through the motions

My mother tells me that when I was eleven, something clicked in my head and I realised that if I put in effort into my work, it would pay off. She tells me that it was the same year that I entered and won my first competitive sporting event; I took part in a swim meet and won in the events that I swam in. She thinks that it made me realise that there was a correlation between working hard and succeeding. 

I think Jordan's figured that out. 4 years before I did. 

So pleased, she is. 

The challenge for us is to manage her. Well, me specifically. Packrat says that Jordan is a clone of me. That perfectionist, high strung, achievement oriented and competitive streak got passed down to her by the buckets. And through this entire experience, we learnt that

1. Like me, she drives herself into a frenzy because of her own extremely high expectations. Hence, the melt down. Thankfully, I've gone through enough of them in my life time to know that the melt down is necessary as an outlet for the build up of stress. And after that, it'll be okay. But at 7, she needs someone around to talk her down from it.

2. Remind her that no matter how high the stakes are, she has to have fun and enjoy doing it. Before her rotations began, I took her aside and we prayed and then I told her that the most important thing was to enjoy herself out there. And if she could do that, the medals would be easier to come by. So when she ended up every routine with a face splitting grin, I knew that regardless the previous freak outs, she was doing okay.

3. We cannot belittle her expectations. Telling her that it's okay if she doesn't win might be our way of telling her we won't be angry or upset with her if she doesn't win. To us, it's a good thing. But to her, telling her it's okay that she doesn't win when she badly wants to, it is that we aren't supportive of goals and we don't think highly of it.

4. We have to teach her to take instruction. Jordan's got an athlete's personality. Their perception of their abilities is sometimes over inflated, especially when they think they've already got it. Jordan's a little bit like that. She knows she's good but because of that, she thinks she no longer needs to listen. This is something that extends into her academic work as well.

5. We have to teach her about failure. As far as possible, I don't ever want her to fear failure. Inevitably, she will. It is one of the pillars of why Singapore is so successful. But I also know this fear is crippling and is what kept me from achieving greater athletic success. So I sit with her and talk to her about how falling off the beam isn't because she is lousy at it but because she didn't hold in her muscles enough to stay up; that her slightly weaker placings on the floor and the vault weren't condemning her but where she had to listen to her coaches more about how to make it better.

But none of them really take anything away from her victory of last weekend. She deserved every medal she got. We told her how proud  we were of how hard she worked and what she achieved because of it. It's a mouthful of praise but worth a lot more to her than telling her how good she was.