Gearing little ones into great adventure

We’ve Moved.

JED Packs has turned 1 and to celebrate it, we’ve moved to a more permanent website. The JED Packs online store has also been launched. So hop on over and have a look.

To celebrate this move, we are offering new online shoppers a 10% (for total purchases over $20) discount off our products. (Discount code: weR1)

Easter Egg Surprise: Leave a comment on our FB announcement and tag a friend. You and your friend stand to win an Easter surprise from us!
PS: Our site is very new so please forgive us and let us know if there are any bugs!

This is not an April Fools’ joke!

JED banner FB


The true meaning of Christmas

Christmas gifting began because of what Christmas was meant to symbolise; the greatest gift to mankind. Christians believe that Christmas is the birth of Christ. Christ being God’s gift to us, His sinful children, so that we could be saved. That’s what it is in a nutshell.

Unfortunately, that symbolism behind gifting has become diluted and Christmas has become very much about just the presents. Children expect gifts at Christmas. Even adults like gifts. Who doesn’t? In fact, JEDPacks has partly been about ensuring that there are cute, unique and fun gifts for children and adults.

And as a business, JEDPacks has definitely benefitted greatly from the gifting that occurs at Christmas. But here is where we stand and take stock. We are grateful and thankful that our first 9 months as a business has been more successful that we could have imagined and our first Christmas has been busier than we can manage. But we are not just about that. The reason why many of the things that JEDPacks sells are recyclable and eco-friendly is because we want to also be a beacon for social responsibility and benefitting the community.

For the month of December, in honour of Christmas and in thanksgiving for what we have been blessed with, we have provided gifts to a party for children who come from disadvantaged families. The JEDkids were instrumental in picking out the gifts for these children and we explained to them that these were children who came from families where they did not have many toys or even mommies or daddies to hug and cuddle them. So, it was their responsibility, because they had a lot more than these children, to make it better for them.

And then there is helping Faith. Faith is a friend of the JEDkids. She is a precocious and very empathetic five year old. With the help of her mother, Faith has created these snow globes from used baby food jars. Her intention is to sell these precious snow globes that she painstakingly put together and donate all the money she makes from them to Canosaville Children’s Home. And we at JEDPacks applaud and admire her effort and what she is trying to do. So, in support of her, JEDPacks will match dollar for dollar the amount she raises from selling these snow globes and we, together with Faith will hopefully bring a brighter smile to the children at the home.

Faith is selling these snow globes for $10 each. If you feel moved to support her cause and help the children at Canosaville, please order them at and we will bubble wrap them and mail them out to you at no cost.



Please join us in our Christmas effort, to provide a love gift to those who really need it. These are children who are not asking for another toy, but perhaps something to make their life more comfortable or make going to school slightly easier.

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Wanderlust Dreams

It’s that time of the year where all the kids are on school holidays and many people are planning to go on vacation overseas. This time of year always makes us feel wistful because, like our parents before us, we are bit in a big way by wanderlust. We are never happier than to be planning or packing for a vacation. But with three children and growing costs of their needs, it takes a long time to save to go somewhere far and for long.We still travel, we would go stir crazy if we didn’t, but we generally go to where we can afford it.

Why do we travel or always dream of travelling?

1. For us, on our own, it’s because we’re constantly sleep deprived and exhausted. Vacations for us, away from the kids is often for us to recharge and reconnect as a couple. It’s a break from reality, as parents, as children, as employees and employers.

2. To see things and enjoy weather that doesn’t exist in Singapore. Much of what is in Singapore is manufactured. It is great to go somewhere, where the sand is fine and clean and the ocean is blue without a container ship in the horizon or where the nights are so dark, the sky is speckled with glistening stars. It is great to be engulfed by a sense of history or a sense of culture that we can learn from and stand in awe of.

3. For us as a family, we travel because we want JED to enjoy travelling and new experiences the same way we do. We want to expose them to more than the life that they lead in Singapore. At the same time, as they grow older, we love the time we spend with them on vacation; they are distracted by new things all around, excited and great fun to be with. We love seeing things for a the first time through their eyes.

4. For someone who loves shopping and beautiful things, the wide variety of choice at the stores always leaves me reluctant to buy anything more than necessary from stores in Singapore. It is once again, in part, why I set up JEDPacks!

As a parent, my ideal vacation spot with JED would be a month on the beach in Maine, where we would be able to rent a beach house and they can go nuts running on the beach and using hotdogs to catch crabs. We would use that as a base and drive around the states there and perhaps, as a poli-sci geek we could drive to Kennebunkport and show JED where American presidents holiday. We would have grandparents around as well, because we believe in family vacations. A month would be long enough to live a little bit like the natives; no doubt bourgeois natives and I would definitely have time to shop and enjoy all the free shipping benefits of having an American address.

We have other vacation dreams for JED as well, that include service holidays when the youngest of JED is old enough.

So in line with my wanderlust wistfulness and the onset of the school vacation, we invite all JED Fans to tell us where your dream vacation would be and stand to win this set of 3 iconic Tyrrell Katz London Snack Boxes. Of course, if you are intending to go to London, don’t forget warm, warm clothing!

This is what you have to do.

1. “Like” the JEDPacks! FB Page if you haven’t already done so.

2. “Share” this Wanderlust post on our FB Page  on your own FB wall.

3. Leave a comment here, on the JEDPacks! blog as to where you would love to go and let us know who you are with your name and email address.

To DOUBLE your chance of winning,

4. Post a picture of your ideal vacation spot on the JEDPacks! wall and label it “Wanderlust -insert country/city/state-“.

Do this either by 27 November 2012 or before you head off on your vacation, whichever comes first!


Crazy Food Mum!

I wrote this for Bottoms Up but I thought I would post it here as well.

One of my favourite websites is TED. One of my favourite talks on TED is by Jamie Oliver. It’s about food. It’s not food porn but it’s worth spending 20 minutes on. It’s inspired me to feed my children well and to not rely on what is convenient for me.

The temptation is always there, to turn to what is convenient.

I have always been weird about food. From the point I was 13 and started running competitively and had track coaches who taught me not to mix carbs and protein. These same coaches taught me about red meat and the uric acid deposits in red meat that collected in our joints. On the same token, I learnt that bananas were great and coconuts not so much. My mother worried about me during that time. She freaked out the year I was 15 because I decided to go vegetarian and went through nary a piece of meat for the year. It took me years to eat pork and beef again.
My thoughts on food aren’t so fanatical now but having had that sort of background and always being so aware of what goes into my body, it comes as no surprise to me that I am careful with what my children eat. At the same time, I am horrified by the food options that are available to children, and even in places that claim to be child-friendly. How can a child-friendly menu comprise deep fried fish sticks, nuggets, deep fried chicken wings, and pasta in tomato sauce without anything else? And all this served with fries and sweetened juice or soda?

For the first few years of my twins’ lives, they never ate out. I tried to buy organic vegetables and fed them only wholewheat or vegetable pasta. I came home with nine-grain cereals that had to go into their porridge and would watch over my helper like a hawk to ensure it went into the porridge. I fought an uphill battle. The older generation who helped with the children begged me to stop.

“They couldn’t digest it!”

“They painstakingly remove bit by bit from their mouths!”

“It makes them throw up!”

“You grew up on white rice, you turned out fine!”

No one understood my Nazi approach to food as I stoutly refused to give them what had traditionally been seen as children’s food.

Food on my enemy list included:

  1. Sausages and other processed meat.
  2. Sweets, lollipops, biscuits, and chocolate.
  3. Anything from MacDonald’s. Until today, the twins have only ever had hotcakes at McDonald’s with us.
  4. Fish balls because of the salt and the MSG.
  5. Deep fried food. I remember how much I suffered as a child with tonsillitis; I couldn’t bear to put the children through that much pain.
  6. Salt, colouring, and preservatives in general.
  7. Soda or sweetened drinks of any kind.

The problem with this was that I was fighting a losing battle against the rest of the world. Once the twins (and now Muffin) started school, it was difficult to control who ate what. Once the rules got broken by others and the children had tasted forbidden fruit, it was difficult to go back.

Jordan very often tells me that she likes lollipops and sweets. Evan tells me he loves “soyty” (read: salty) food. Muffin can’t tell me what he wants but I know he likes tasty food as well.

I have had to make concessions. Primarily because I am not with them all day and because I would go crazy if I tried to police every single thing that they consume.

Someone very wisely told me that I couldn’t fight all the battles. I had to choose the rules I wanted to stick with and the rest was fair game. So, in the case of food, I had to figure out a way of still getting healthy food into the kids’ tummies, and also to accept that there were going to be some situations that I would have to watch, albeit in horror, as they consumed something or everything on my “No” list.

So this is how I rationalised it and learned to bear it:

  1. If they get sweets in school and eat them, I cannot stop them. All I can do is ensure they brush their teeth before they go to bed. But I will not be party to their teeth rotting or them going hyper so I will not buy the sweets.
  2. They get to eat at McDonalds and have processed food on school outings and at parties. I wish their school wouldn’t feed them fast food when they are out on excursions, but the logistics of feeding so many children often makes the Big M the only available option. When that has to happen, I remind the teachers to ply them with extra water and I make sure that their next meal is filled with vegetables.
    I have friends who refuse to allow their children to eat what the school provides as meals. They send the child to school with full meals. I thought about doing that. But the school gently reminded me that if I were enrolling my children in the school, I should trust that they would feed them relatively healthily. While I still have my doubts about that, Fridays being ham/jam and bread day in school, I have left it at that. My consolation is that every day, the children go to school with a snack box full of fruit. They have been so accustomed to it that they automatically take it out after lunch and munch through it like Hungry Caterpillars.
  3. The children get two fish balls a week and taste in their food now. It
    would be hypocritical for me to ban them from fish balls seeing that as a
    child, I ate nothing but. Mindful of the salt and preservatives though,
    I limit it to once a week, in their noodle soup and on the condition
    that every sliver of vegetable in the soup is eaten up.

So have I sold out? I don’t feel that I have. I am still a Nazi food mommy at heart. I have just adjusted my ideals to the reality of living in Singapore. If I were living somewhere else, where organic food was much more readily available, perhaps I wouldn’t need to make these concessions. But I’m not. I live in Singapore, land of deep fried food and MSG.

And there are some other reasons too, why I decided that I couldn’t be 100% strict with my kids’ diet:

I have learnt from Jamie Oliver that feeding my kids good, wholesome food most of the time is more important than fretting over the occasional hot dog or nugget.

I would like the children to learn that the things I encourage them not to eat are for their own health. For me to do that, I have to give them space to absorb what I nag them about and internalise it.
I intend for the children to grow up and have normal experiences. This means eating what others eat in school and eating food that is not prepared the same way as it is at home. It would not benefit them in any way if they ate healthy at home but gawked at food from school or camp or wherever because they grew up with rigid ideas of how food was supposed to be prepared. The reality is that they will have meals away from home.
They also need to learn that junk food/unhealthy food exists and if they get to eat it, it is a treat rather than the norm. They can look forward to the times that they can eat it, but it won’t be something that is going to happen on a regular basis.
Most pragmatically, feeding three kids organic and totally healthy food would mean that I would need to stop work to bake and prepare everything myself. At the same time, I would go broke from buying all the stuff!

Having said all this, just because I concede doesn’t mean I am okay with it. I am not. So, to offset whatever they might eat outside of my rules, I make sure their subsequent meals are more wholesome.

Generally, these are the food rules that our household lives by:

  1. Vegetables: Each meal has to have at least three vegetables in it. The magic number is three. The most common ones we use are spinach, carrot, broccoli (Australian), and celery. Peppers and mushrooms get thrown in if it is stew or meat sauce.
  2. Fruit: The children get fruit first thing in the morning. They get fruit in their snack boxes. They get fruit sometimes in the afternoon when they come home from school. They get fruit on the weekend when they are home with their dad and glued to the telly.
  3.  Eggs: Jordan especially is sometimes erratic about her meals. But she doesn’t mind eggs. So, she gets eggs in the morning in various forms—French toast, half boiled, omelette with ketchup, or fried into her roti prata.
  4. Cheese + Fresh Milk: Muffin is still on formula but we’ve weaned the twins off it. So they get a cup of fresh milk in the morning and slices or cubes of cheese as snacks. I buy out enough of the dairy department every week at the supermarket.
  5.  Olive Oil: Most of our meats that the twins request to be fried are grilled. To make it crispy, the trick is to slather olive oil and some salt over the meat before grilling. This makes the skin crispy without all the extra oil.
  6. Water: They drink water. Ribena is only given to them when they are sick. As a treat: Cold water or ice cubes. No soda, and almost no juice. The occasional bottle of Vitagen (Vitagen because it’s lower in sugar than Yakult).

If I thought really hard about why I am particular about the children eating well, I couldn’t go beyond the cliched reason of “healthy body, healthy mind.” I wouldn’t be able to say for sure that the children don’t fall sick as much because they eat healthy. But I do know the converse. I do know what happens to the body when it isn’t fed well and what goes into much of the processed, pre-packaged food out there. And I cannot, in good conscience, after knowing all that, ply my children with the ground-up snout, ear, and hoof of a random animal that is passed off as meat.


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Shrinking the kid footprint.

Someone once told me that if my house caught fire and I had no fire extinguisher, what I should actually look for to protect myself was actually soiled diapers. Apparently, the absorbent beads in the diaper and the diaper itself are flame retardants and technically I could pelt my way down a corridor of flames just by emptying out the contents of the Diaper Genie. On one hand, it’s hilarious. On the other hand, extremely worrying because that meant, even in high heat, these full diapers were not even disintegrating. Apparently, it takes 500 years for disposable diapers to decompose.

That is a disturbing thought, considering how many babies there are in the world.

But it wasn’t just  because of that tale that I tried to crusade against disposable diapers. Of course, having twins made that decision all the more straight forward. I wanted to reduce the amount of waste that I would contribute while bringing up the twins. Babies typically get through more than 5,000 diapers before they’re toilet trained. Bringing up two at the same time meant 10 000 a month!

It also helped appease the older generation who felt that disposables were an abomination and that the cloth route was better for the baby. Reusuables allowed me to do the whole reusuable nappy without actually having perpetually wet clothes!

But there are other things we can do to actually make the world better for our kids.

1. GO SOLAR. We are not talking about converting the house to use solar electricity, but we can reduce our electricity consumption. This is VERY easy with reusables because they love to be put out on a line to dry. What is great about it, on top of a smaller electricity bill is that the sun loves to eat away at all diaper stains, naturally sanitizing and deodorizing them while they swing in the breeze. So, not only do you reduce your electricity usage, but get clean, fresh-smelling cloth diapers to pamper your baby’s bum. And there is just something therapeutic about hanging and removing cloth diapers from a clothesline. The rule in the JED household is that all clothes get hung out to dry rather than dried in the dryer. I love the sun dried crispness of clothes and dryer-ed clothes just don’t have the same effect.

2. USE LESS PAPER. This is hard to do when it is so convenient. The biggest culprit for mums is baby wipes. We use baby wipes for everything. Tables, utensils, mouths, hands and bums (not the same piece though). And that’s a killer. D’s school got it right. When he started there, I sent him in with wipes and they told me, no wipes. Environmentally unfriendly and water was better for washing their bums than the wipes. And while in confinement when the babies were wee small, the nanny refused to use wipes, choosing small cloth squares that could be soaked and washed in detergent easily. Not only are they softer on your baby’s bum, but if you use terry wipes, the loops in the fabric “grab” baby’s messes instead of smearing it like the paper wipes do. You don’t throw them away – you toss them in a wash and then, once again, you can hang them on the line to dry.

3. REDUCE PACKAGING AND PLASTICS. Most kid things especially diapers are paper wrapped in plastic, wrapped in more plastic and given to you in a plastic bag after you purchase them from your local store. Bring your own bags or carry things as is i.e. diaper packs have a plastic strap on the top, use that instead. And recycle the empty bag of diapers after using up the diapers. Line the bin, throw trash.

4. CHOOSE THE FAN OVER AIR CONDITIONING Granted, it can sometimes be really hot in Singapore. But when it isn’t, choose the fan. Kids get sick less and their noses aren’t stuffed up by the dry-ness. And if it is really hot, turn on the air-conditioning to a  temperature like 25 degrees where the compressor isn’t crazy working. Turn on the fan to circulate the air. What we do is we switch off the air-conditioning about midnight and just have the fan on to circulate the already cooled air. Or, and this is JED’s favourite, we haul all of them into our room and lay mattresses on the floor. They think it’s camp and they are thrilled to wake up in our room and all 5 of us use one unit of air-conditioning.

The good thing about doing all these things apart from just saving the earth, is a lower power bill! And while that shouldn’t be the sole motivating reason to do all these things, it’s a great secondary outcome to enjoy!

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Mad about Lunches

A few days ago, I watched a Jimmy Kimmel segment “A Message from Your Kids’ Teachers”. It contained all the things that teachers would love to tell us as parents but dare not because their jobs and livelihoods are at stake. Anyway, one thing that was said was about “Lunchables” and how parents must be deluding themselves, packing their kids’ Lunchables and thinking that their kids were set for a day of learning and activity.

I searched up Lunchables and got this. It was all neatly and conveniently packaged but on closer inspection, it looked like high sugar (Dole fruit in syrup), high salt (crackers, ham, barbeque chicken dippers), preservatives (all around). While I am guilty of occasionally packing Goldfish crackers into JED’s Lunchboxes, I try not to. And if I do, I load up the rest of the box with cut fruit. And a bottle of water instead of a juice pack.

JEDPacks the Shop has been running a contest where we’ve asked fans to actually tell us what their dream lunchbox meal was and we got some very good and impressive ideas. So we’re going to share it here to give everyone some ideas as to what can be put into the lunchboxes.

  • Sandwiches- One fan’s advice was to toast the bread, even if the kids wouldn’t eat it straight away. Then, the bread wouldn’t become soggy. The favourite fillings were pork floss, peanut butter and jelly and even peanut butter with boiled egg! Ham and cheese bread tangles and cream cheese and sun dried tomato bagelwiches made my tummy growl as I read them. Some suggested putting it in a sandwich press to seal it and decorate it. Sometimes doing that, makes the little one’s day!

  • Cooked food (Asian favourites)- There was suggestion of curry and crusty bread, dark soy sauce chicken with rice and belachan (obviously for the older ones or adults!) More kid friendly suggestions included egg fried rice and fried beehoon!
  • Cooked food (Western favourites)- Mash potatoes, tomato fusili pasta or pasta of any sorts (either warm or chilled). Actually pastas of all shapes and sizes. And we’ve seen Bob the Builder, Thomas, Hello Kitty, Bart Simpson and many others, if characters and shapes are important. Another sauce shared by a mummy was home made cream sauce with chicken, mushrooms and cheese. Nutritious and tasty!
  • Cut fruit- Apples (soak them in lemon juice or salt water to prevent them from browning), grapes, cherries and strawberries (non-juicy fruit that are bite sized generally).  Edamame while not being a fruit is very portable and very easy for the little ones to eat.
  • Dried fruit- The availability in the supermarkets are quite vast now! The traditional favourites raisins, cranberries to add zing, air-dried apples, dried apricots (there are the organic ones which are brown rather than orange and don’t have preservatives). I recently shot myself in the foot packing little boxes of dried grapes (not raisins but real dehydrated grape slices) into Evan’s lunchbox. He loved it and asked for more. I have never been able to find them again and he hasn’t let me live it down!


JEDpacks carries a whole lot of different lunchbags where you can actually fit various containers in to make a Bento-type lunch for the little one. 

We will also look into lunchboxes and possibly thermoses so that you can send you child to school with a hot lunch as well! It is still not too late to join the contest where you can tell us the most interesting foods you have packed to work or to school for the little one. Pop over and take a look!

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Small steps to responsible living.

When JEDPacks decided to bring in lunch bags for the little ones, there were a lot of blank looks. What for? After all, in Singapore, the children eat in the school canteen or we buy little buns for them from the numerous bakeries here and send them to school with the bun in the plastic bag it came in. No kid uses lunchbags or lunch boxes. What if they lose them?

All true. All valid. But we think that bringing food to school teaches some great values. Healthy eating (as long as what is inside the lunchboxes are NOT gummi bears, nuggets and french fries!)

It teaches the child

1. Responsibility: To remember to bring home the lunchbags and lunchboxes that he brought to school.

2. Healthy Eating: JED are still pre-schoolers albeit growing up fast. And even though they get lunch in school, they bring a box with fruit every day. Even if they don’t finish their fruit, they know it is there and they are used to eating it. This also ensures that even if they eat food that doesn’t have very much greens in school, they get additional vitamins from the fruit.

3. Saving money: On top of the healthy option, there is also the idea of teaching them to save their little bits of allowance. Or teaching them that if they brought food to school, they could conceivably use their little bits of allowance to buy something else. The beginnings of financial planning.

I do that a lot of the time. I bring food to work. And I realise that even though I don’t spend a lot of money eating at work, it adds up to quite a bit.

4. It’s about reducing waste. Using recyclable containers that are chemical free, we are teaching the little ones to reduce their carbon footprints; especially when that foot print isn’t all that big, yet.

So there. 4 reasons for the little ones or even slightly older ones to use lunch bags and lunch boxes.

This is JEDPacks’ favourite TED talk by Jamie Oliver. It’s about his wish to teach every young child about food. We were very moved by it and by bringing in the lunch bag line at JEDPacks, we are doing our little bit.


Slow Parenting

Parents in Singapore sometimes get so overwhelemd by the competition that surrounds us. Ondine shares how she felt like a fish out of water when she waited in line to register her kids at kindergarten and the rabid mobs that scared her. JEDPacks! thinks that this article on Slow Parenting is a must read for parents in Singapore. And perhaps, this gives the child time to explore, climb a tree or generally create an adventure out of being out of the house, in the open!

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Introducing JEDPacks!

Dear Friends,
Welcome to JEDPacks!
JEDPacks was born out of the sheer desire to do something for myself. With 3 kids under the age of 5, much of my life, decisions and work revolves around them. While I do enjoy being a mom, I often wonder what will become of me when my kids grow up because so much of my time is given to them. At the same time, I am always reminded to carve out time and space for me to be myself.

So, I dreamed up this idea. I like bags. I have also become well-versed in most things to do with kids. I decided to marry the two together, creating JEDPacks and bringing in children’s bags that I would choose and use for my own brood; bags that have a dash of whimsy with a good measure of quality and practicality mixed into it.

About 3 weeks ago, I got it into into my head that this was what I wanted to do and there was no turning back from that point on. I took a deep breadth and jumped into the deep end! For now, the entire adventure is a roller coaster ride of fun, new experiences and encounters. For all that, I am extremely stoked to be launching JEDPacks!

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