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.

Friday, September 09, 2016

The Corner Book Stall at the Market

As the youngest of 3, with brothers much older than I am, I could not wait to grow up. After all, I saw first-hand the freedoms they had as they got older and I couldn't wait to have the same freedoms.

Freedom meant the ability to go where ever I wanted to, by bus, on my own. Freedom was also defined as getting an allowance.

The biggest symbol of this freedom was this stall in Marine Parade Market. It was a second hand bookstore. You paid money for the book and if you returned it within the stipulated period, you got some of the money back. So, the trick was to rent the book and when you returned it, you use the money you got back for the book to offset the new book.

I would take the bus there, once a month when I was younger and had less money. When I got older and had more allowance or when it was vacation time, I would go there more often and get more books. Why didn't I just go to the library? Because the owner would be able to recommend books to me based on what I had previously rented (This was pre-Amazon but he provided that service). And he had series of books that the library thought too frivolous to bring in. I remember a gymnastic series called Perfect 10 and a ballet series called Satin Slippers that I bought from him and I still have them kept somewhere in a box.

It was a great place. It was musty as book stalls with thousands of old books would be. It was hot because it was in a market. And it was tight and squeezy because the owner crammed as many books as he could into that small space. But it was a place where you could always find something you wanted to read. And the amazing thing was that he knew exactly where every single book was.

I hadn't thought about this place for a long time. In fact, since I had moved out of the East, I hardly ever went to Marine Parade Central. But I think it was always there, a memory, deep in the recesses of my memory.

This afternoon, while having lunch with my brother at Parkway Parade, another place that holds much sentiment for me, I talked about the stall and he recalled how the owner remembered him even after all those years abroad. Both of us lamented the loss of such second-hand bookstores; especially this one. Serendipitously, I strolled by the market and my heart actually stopped when I saw the stall open, right where it always was, with the shelves and shelves of books encroaching onto the walkway of the market and the owner looking like he did all those years ago.

We have far too many books at home. We could start a library. Our shelves are actually breaking under the weight of the books. But I could not resist the temptation of looking through the rows of books. I became a teenager again. With the Sweet Valley High covers of the past wedged amongst the more contemporary tween equivalents; the fantasy novels that I remember my brother read to current zombie genre ones, such a great hodge-podge of books past and present. So many of the books had covers that I remembered. The owner asked if I was looking for anything in particular. My mind was blank from the assault of nostalgia triggered by the sight, the smells and the sensation of being so close to all these old books again. I couldn't respond. 

And even though I couldn't tell him what I wanted, he seemed to know that I wanted the books from my childhood and teen years and pulled out the Enid Blytons, Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys from that period (also published circa 1980). The pages were yellow and spotted and the print and font familiar. I bought what I could. I wanted to buy the Enid Blyton ones too but I have the recent editions at home and couldn't justify them.

I'm not entirely sure that the twins will read them but it was important that I had them for the twins. I told the owner that the last time I visited the stall, I was perhaps an undergrad or maybe even younger Now, I'm back, getting books for my children who are probably 3 years shy of the age I was when I first found his stall. He remembers me, for bugging him for both frivolous teen romances as well as Tom Clancy novels.

I hope he stays around long enough for them to make the same journey to him for the same reasons that I did.

For those who have asked, here's the address.

Silver Kris Bookshop,
Blk 84 #01-187 Marine Parade Central
12- 8pm  (Closed on Tuesdays)

Find the McDonald's at Marine Parade Central, then find the playground beside it and find the entrance to the market near the playground. That's where it is.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Repetitive Humour

Jordan came home from school one day with this joke.

"There were three people. Their names were "Ouch", "Somebody", "Nobody".
One day, Ouch got hurt and had to go to the doctor.
The doctor asks, "What's your name?"
He goes, "Ouch!"
The doctor replies, "I know it's painful. But what's your name?"
He goes "Ouch" again.
The doctor isn't getting anywhere with that and goes on. "Who hurt you?
Ouch goes "Somebody"
The doctor asks again, "What's his name?"
Ouch goes "Somebody."
The doctor gets fed up. "Was there anyone else with you?"
Ouch replies "Nobody was with me"
The doctor then asks "Then how can I help you, if you can't tell me who hurt you?"
Ouch is exasperated. "Somebody hurt me and Nobody was with me! Why won't you help me?"
The doctor retorts" You won't even tell me your name!"
Ouch roars "OUCH! It's OUCH!"

The story goes on.

It's very amusing.

Evan and Muffin get it and laugh till they're in stitches and they try to make up their own. Packrat decides to let them watch Abbott and Costello and they love it and watch it ad nauseum.

I know we stand the danger of raising children that might end up exasperating other children. But they'll have a sense of humour.

On a side note, Evan asked me if TV was indeed black and white when we were little. He was appalled when I told him that TV only started at 3 pm and there was only one English channel.

His response was at least the people on TV were funny even though they were black and white!

See, funny.

Friday, August 05, 2016

A booklist for the reluctant reader

Last year, I wrote about how we enticed Evan to read by introducing him to audio books. He's still not as voracious as his sister who finished tome of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in a week with school, training and a full schedule. But he's come along very nicely and pleased us immensely when he bugged usto go to the library to borrow books for him. 

So I decided that it may not be a bad idea to record the list of books that he started off with in case there are other reluctant readers out there that need a bit of encouraging. 

Of course, his perennial favourites are the Harry Potter Series and science comics (but those don't count because those are in bad English!). He took it very seriously when we told him that he could read the Cursed Child's script till he finished Deathly Hallows. Two days later, he was done with Deathly Hallows, rearing to start on Cursed Child. 

The beginning of the Harry Potter mania
Jumping ahead and reading the Cursed Child on launch day. 
But Harry Potter worked for him because he had the audio books as initial scaffolding; to get used to the length and the language. 

The ones he picked up by himself were
1. The A- Z Mysteries by Ron Roy.
They are straightforward and simple mysteries. Each book has an alliterative title. The Absent Author, the Talking T-Rex. The titles were enough to draw him in.

I think he liked it because it followed a particular formula and the chapters were short and easy enough for him to get through. The characters in the book carried through into the next book so he felt he knew the characters quite well by the end of the 3 week library loan period. And the sense of achievement from being able to read 2 or 3 of these in a day was tremendous for him. There are Super Editions which he didn't enjoy as much even though he read them as well.

2. Encyclopedia Brown
Packrat introduced this series to the twins. He read it as a child and wanted to be a detective after that. Both twins lapped it up though Evan was more intent on trying to figure out how Encyclopedia managed to solve the mysteries instead of reading the explanation for it. But the fact that there was an explanation was pretty cool and both Packrat and I took part in trying to figure out the mysteries as well. 

Right now, he's back on Harry Potter. Well, after the 8th book, he won't have that anymore unless he re-reads them which is he likely to do too. As with his sister, there's a sense that he's feeling a bit lost as to what to read after he's done here. He wants to go back to the A-Z and Encyclopaedia Brown types but I'm hoping he's willing to push his boundaries a little bit more than that.

3. How to Train A Dragon Series by Cressida Cowell

Evan read some of these last year but listened to the entire audio book series. It was the first series of books he fell in love with. I could never get into them but both Packrat and he loved them and would talk about them at length. They aren't as tome-like as Potter but definitely more than the chapter books above. He keeps them all in a box by his bed and is territorial over them. Nothing can go in that box except for the Dragon books and now his Potter books. Potentially a set that we could get him to revisit now that he's older and has a longer reader span. 

I'm toying with Alex Rider and some of the Morpugo books but we'll see what bites we get.  

It's not a long list but it was a list that worked for him and it's a great improvement from last year. I don't expect him to be reading Arthur Conan Doyle anytime soon but I'm happy he's read more books this year than he has fingers and toes. 

Monday, August 01, 2016

Of Potter Heads and Potter-lets.

I was late to Harry Potter. I only read it in 2000. I remember discovering it one day when I was home, sick from school. I don't think I was sick for that long but I stayed home for the next three days. And the good thing about reading it then was that shortly after I played truant, the fourth book was released. At that point, Packrat the fan boy, who was my then boyfriend, told me that I should wake up early and get the book the minute the book store opens and start reading it immediately.

That was the beginning of our Potter book launch rituals. The last book was launched during my confinement with the twins and I broke out of confinement to go get it from the now defunct-Borders. I am grateful for the weight and length of that one because it kept me company during the long mindless hours of breastfeeding.

That was 9 years ago.

Yesterday was the launch of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. And in the span of 9 years, I haven't become less of a fan but my fan-mania has been overtaken by the Potterlets that I've spawned. So it was fitting yesterday that they wanted to go for the book launch more than we did. At the crack of dawn, they were up (very much unlike a school day where they would have to be dragged out of bed kicking and screaming) and they were dressed for the part; robes, wands and all.

I can't say we weren't excited. We were. We peeped into the Times near us and saw boxes ready to be unpacked for the 7.01am launch.


And the 5.45 am wake up on a Sunday morning was well worth it. 

The staff really knew how to throw a party. There were drinks and 'treacle' tarts and the twins were sorted while waiting in queue. They also got key-chain door gifts. Unfortunately, Muffin's was a key chain that said "Platfrom 9 3/4" but he loved it as much as Evan loved his wand and Jordan her Hedwig. 

The twins kept making friends, kindred spirits and all. By the end of the morning, I had triple the number of kids I came with and even though they didn't know everyone by name, they were playing quite chummily with each other. They shared food, they sat in the corner and played Top Trumps; Harry Potter edition, the older ones kept an eye on the younger ones while speed reading through the book, all while waiting for the next activity to start. 

They took part in everything from the Cosplay competition to the Snitch Hunt and Trivia Quiz.

The highlight of our day was seeing everyone so dressed up, from Loopy Luna Lovegoods with the Lion's Head atop her own to an incredibly sullen- adolescent Snape and a teeny tiny Harry Potter in Gryffindor Quidditch Robes.

The highlight of our day as parents was to watch the girls take part in the Cosplay contest where they were among the youngest, without a care in the world, duelling like they always do when they get together. It got loud, very heated and seemingly real. We were so chuffed that they did it without a hint of nervousness and they got so into character they could barely stop.

And at the end of it, they got some other Harry Potter books for their effort.

They were on such a high for the rest of the day and it carried through when they found out that they were featured in the newspapers the next morning.

Jordan is speed-reading through it and trying very hard not to spoiler Evan who is half way through Deathly Hallows. We love how they've fallen in love with the world like we did and how they've taken it a step further by imagining it through the eyes of children.

I spent yesterday and part of today getting through the book so that Jordan could talk to me about it and an added advantage was being able to annoy the heck out of Packrat as I gasped and growled at the parts that he hadn't got to yet.

We've both finished the book now and are discussing it in hushed terms lest our 9 year olds overhear us.

One thing's for sure though; we're feeling a little bit lost now, after all the hype and high of yesterday and the fact that tomorrow is just going to be boring and ordinary again. 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Tooth Fairy

Muffin is growing up fast. He's shot up so quickly in the last few months that he's become gangly and clumsy. He's also started losing his milk teeth.

The first tooth he lost was at the gym. He left it on the bench but he couldn't find it after.

Tonight, he dropped his second tooth. We have been telling him, the last few days, to not swallow his tooth so that we could stick it under his pillow like the Jordan and Evan did.

Unfortunately, it was not to be. The tooth found the most inopportune time to fall out; as Muffin was rinsing his mouth after brushing his teeth. So it swirled in the sink and went down the drain pipe before anyone could react.

Evan tried. He tried to cover the hole in the sink. But the tooth slipped right through his fingers.

Muffin howled. It wasn't one tooth he was mourning. It was two. And he cried so pitifully, his usually combative brother came running to get us.

No amount of carrying and consoling soothed his distress.

Right till Evan offered him one of his own milk teeth (that he knows I keep in a container), to lay under his pillow so that the tooth-fairy would come.

Even with that, it took him another 10 to 15 minutes of sobbing, gulping and hiccoughing before he picked a tooth, laid it in the box and slipped it under his pillow. And then he cried himself to sleep.

But at least there was recourse.

Evan, the brother who fights so bitterly with him sometimes, rose to the occasion, put aside his own grumpiness and showed kindness and compassion. He did ask me to return him his tooth once we were done with it. To which, I gladly acceded. After all, the tooth was his.

So not only did we leave a note and 2 $1 coins for Muffin, we told him in the note that his big brother helped to make it happen and that he had a wonderful big brother. So we were leaving an extra $1 that he was to give to his big brother for helping him feel better. 

Sometimes, we don't give Evan enough credit. He's the oft-misunderstood, bullied, overshadowed middle brother. But he always, always rises to the occasion when it matters the most.

Like tonight, where he saved the day and was the tooth fairy through and through.