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, 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.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Slime Industry

Since the exams ended, JED have been on a high. As they go up in the years and the exams get harder, the relief is dizzyingly palpable. It drives us adults batty because they are bouncing off walls and occasionally that high energy becomes destructive. So it became a compromise of what we were willing to put up with and how to channel that energy into something that didn't involve beating each other up.

Packrat had a dinner and dance and his department wanted to go as Ghostbusters. So he decided to commission the kids on our floor to make him a litre of slime. He told them to come up with a business plan. They had to

1. Come up with a break down of costs and how much they need to charge to make a decent profit. Profit enough to pay all their
workers ( the head honcho being our neighbour and the workers being JED)

2. Create a prototype of the slime and get approval from buyer (Packrat). They ran through 3 prototypes because each suffered from the Goldilocks syndrome. One being too watery, one being too opaque and one being just right.

3. Once the prototype was okayed, they had to figure out how to multiply the materials in order to create the required one litre.

4. Even with the prototype, they had several failed batches and it took a large part of the day for them to complete it; just in time for Packrat to pack it up and bring it to the function.

5. They had to split the profits in an equitable fashion and since Muffin did the least amount of work, they wanted to pay him the least amount of money. Eventually, there was some under the table payment for Muffin to pay him off so that he would not disturb the peace by chucking a fit and demanding fair wages. 

For those who are late to the game and need a recipe, this is our neighbour's.

What you’ll need

Half bottle glue (Elmer's if you want it opaque, Chunbei if you want it transparent- They can be bought at Popular) (that’s 50-60 ml based on a 120 ml bottle)

Baking soda (1/4 tsp)

Contact Lens Saline Solution (Add in little amounts till the consistency is right- too much saline makes the slime hard!)

Food colouring (optional)

At the end of it, they were pleased. They made a bee-line for the mama shop where they spent their wages on ice cream and junk food. A true case of one hand in-one hand out and nothing for the bank. I guess that's the next lesson they would have to learn about being entrepreneurs. If they spend everything they make, they aren't going to have anything to help them make more money.

They haven't quite figured out how to spend money to make money yet, just to make money to spend. 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Why Exams are Important Pt 2

So I get a message from Jordan's teacher yesterday.

She's been doodling a lot in class. Even when the teacher is teaching.

She's always been a doodler. She draws everywhere. Any time she gets her hands on scraps of paper, she'll doodle.

Sometimes, the doodling is effective because it helps her understand concepts better. Sometimes, it's just doodling for doodling sake.

Just a quick glance at her things all over the house, I found a variety of different sorts of doodles on everything from scrap paper to school test papers.

Hence, an annoyed school teacher.

To be fair, if I were the teacher, I'd be annoyed too since it's easy to assume that the child isn't paying attention when there is doodling. My own students do it as well.

Admirably, she admitted openly to the teacher that she doodles when she is bored (they've been going through exam paper after exam paper) and when she finds things hard to understand (that's how she unpacks things).

I also try and suggest to the teacher that instead of fully banning her from doing it and understanding that this is something that she does to process and to decompress, why not let her doodle as a form of note taking. To channel it into something the teacher can accept.

She seems to be open to that idea and I'm grateful.

Then, in the evening, I read about Nike's Chief of Design and how he doodles. All. The. Time. Part of me wants to send that article on to the teacher but the other part of me knows that's just being snarky. But it would be cool if her doodling allowed her to become chief of design, somewhere.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Why exams are important

It's exam time. Again.

And that's usually when creativity flourishes most. When there is real work to be done, the mind wanders and interesting ideas and creations surface. It isn't really necessity that was the mother of invention. I think, more possibly, boredom.

One day, Evan comes out of school with his finger encased in paper. He says it's a dragon's talon. His friend made it for him. And he asks if I can find out how to make them. We YouTube it, I learn it, I pass on the information to him and promptly forget how to do it. He goes on to make 10 talons; he has to make 10, after all he has 10 fingers and makes a couple more in case he chips a nail. He's become a grand master of it.

It's a thing in class now. They're all little dragons that have started to spout talons. Poor teachers. The only things I cautioned him against was to NOT do it during teaching or work time and please use rough paper rather than buying a clean sketch pad from the book store for this.

The annoying thing is that there are talons all over the house and he refuses to throw it out. He puts them them on to claw menacingly at Muffin when his brother annoys him.

Then, there was this.

It's a creature. Not enough legs to be an insect or an arachnid but enough to be an Evan creation. It's made out of staples, magnets and an eraser. All things you find on the study table especially when you're parked there for extended periods of time.

He tells me it's science. He uses the magnet because that's how you get the staples to hold on. The eraser is important because that's how you anchor the staples and it's what forms the body.

Ingenious though extremely annoying because of the high wastage of staples and the random staples lying around waiting to impale the random, unaware adult.

He's proud of his creations and he brings them to school to show his friends. Honestly, these are probably going to be the things he will remember learning in primary school, not so much the fanciful and impractical Chinese phrases that he's had to memorise by the boat load.