Saturday, September 19, 2015

Day 2 - Disney Land

Travel to Disney Land today was sure exciting, we used four different subway trains to land over there. The last train had the cutest windows, they were Mickey Mouse ears!  The  train was adorned with bronze statues of the Disney characters, and the hand straps also joined in the theming.

We paused for the entrance photo, although someone managed to put in a seductive pose, not sure what was going on there!

Actually it was hilarious, even the youngsters lunch time meal had carrot and watermelon cut Mickey mouse ears.  There was also the wafting aroma of Mickey Mouse waffles.

As with any commercialised venture, there was a stack of Disney branded items for sale.  The child got lost in the possibility of spending all travel money on Day 2 to buy up all the little stuffed things she could find.  Thankfully Mummy had the foresight to but a limit on the number you could buy, and also the size given we are travelling a long way from home.  Some blue stitch thing was selected and then randomly appeared in photos for the balance of the day.

I am not sure if the traffic through the amusement park was normal for a Saturday, but it was surely not what I expected.  We hardly had to queue for any rides or food, which meant that there were ample rides to be taken.  The youngster finally achieved her dream of a roller coaster ride, actually multiple times.  At the end of the ride, I swear she would have broken a track record to run back and announce how excited she was.

After rollercoasters, she also managed to survive some horrid looking ride the spanned into the sky at great speeds. Many thanks to Aunty Helen for her dedication to attending to every ride request.

We did climb up through Tarzan's tree house, after a short ride down the river on a raft.  I jumped on the carosel for a spin and almost begged the horses to stop moving.  As we took a spin on the train around the outside of the park, I spotted the famous tea cups that had been etched in my childhood memory, and the best part, it was stationary!  In reflecting on the day, the youngster feels that I must have had a sense of abandonment at being left alone and away from the fun of screaming your head off.  Yep those solo moments with a quiet coke zero were terrible.  I also managed to find a popcorn place, and I did pass on the curry popocorn option, instead giving the chocolate version a go.

Determined to make the most of my holiday, and perhaps bring home a little trinket for myself, I gave this a good.....

It was also lovely to hang out with the youngster, with no worries about school, work, chores or any other normal life drama.  It was random moments of being able to see how big she has actually grown, and how her own little sense of humour is developing.  This stunt actually made me chuckle out loud.  The look on her face was hilarious, especially when glancing over at Aunty Helen who was posing quite respectively for the photo.

The fitbit announced on the way out of the park that I had hit my step target for the day, and judging by the feel or lack of feeling in my feet at the moment, it feels like I walked a long way. 

Friday, September 18, 2015

Day 1 2015 Holiday

Queensland to Hong Kong, a small nine hour flight. Good news that the AS managed to hold up ok, and I was walking and moving reasonably when we landed. No challenges with immigration, customs or baggage collection, and we navigated our way through the airport landing near the train.  

With a couple of ways to get to Kowloon, the cheapest option included the train ride. It was good to see that our spirit for adventure was up after the long flight.  Thankfully I had some of the local currency, so paying cash at the ticket machine was not a problem.  The youngster was in shock at the $135 price, so we made a note to work out the exchange rate sum so we understood how many Australian dollars we were spending.

The train ride was easy. Navigating out of the shopping centre we landed in was much more difficult! We meandered for what seemed like an eternity before stumbling on the exit and the very long taxi line.  Of course to keep us company was 30 degree heat and the welcome aroma of Asia!

The cab ride should have cost around $30, and I am really not sure if the $60 fare was intentional, or that traffic jam was unpredictable!  But given the luxurious vehicle we were riding in, perhaps he needed to fund the next one.


We have found our travelling companion and it's great to be able to spend some in person time with one of my dearest friends who lives on the other side of our local continent. With a wry smile, I walked under bamboo scaffolding as we wandered up the streets looking for dinner.  The youngster had been lured from her mattress with the knowledge that sushi did in fact exist in Kowloon!  Of course sashimi was not what she expected, but we did manage to find a spot that made tuna hand rolls, so the crisis was averted.  Soft crab tempura hand rolls were amazing, as was the mixed tempura plate of things.  The little magic mushroom creation was gently passed over for Helen to eat, so I am waiting to see if she awakes for day 2 activities!

Thursday, September 17, 2015


It seems like I have been missing since May.  Wow the time has sure flown.  My business is a freckle off hitting its first financial milestone.  We officially kicked off the new company in February, so it has been a fantastic ride to get to this point.  It was less than a year ago when I verbalised that it may be time to make a start on another goal.  The concept was met with a slight frown.  Discussion around risk, and effort began. In my head it was not so much of a big deal, and really it wouldn't take any additional effort.  The risk thing was fine, but effort was way understated!  But the great thing is that when it is your own, and your passionate about it, well it often doesn't feel like work.

With the achievement of a business goal, the next one will be to regain some level of fitness, it has felt of late that I have traded the pursuit of money (business) over other parts of life.  After the holiday, I plan on swinging back to a more balanced approach, which may result in a financial progress slow down, but I created the company for a lifestyle change, not a financial one.

In the middle of all this change, we decided three years of dating between two houses was enough, and we made the plunge into cohabitation.  Things went a bit like my approach to effort above.  Turns out a quiet life of two is way different to five, and this journey has been a little bumpy.  The great thing is despite all the challenges of adjusting to the new family dynamics, I would say that our relationship has strengthened during the period.

The youngster made the regional athletics team again this year, and had a blazing 100m sprint and relay, of which I managed to do a breakfast meeting with a company around a government tender strategy, then make it to the track to see the first sprint, back to the city for a coffee meeting with a finance manager who controls 6 government agencies, then back to the track, then over to the other side of town to do a staff 1:1!  Life is certainly busy, but it feels "full", or maybe complete.

Today we are sitting at the airport, awaiting our boarding call to head off to Hong Kong.  The trip that was planned forever ago is now finally here.  The youngster told the customs guy that she was intending to bring a panda home from China.  Thankfully he had a sense of humour and we were on the way over, not the way home!  

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Focussing on What is Important

I use google mail for my email to avoid being tied to any particular ISP.  Over the past few weeks I have had a few problems with not receiving emails. I had checked the usual junk folder options, but nothing appeared amiss.  A few days ago, I accidentally stumbled on the problem.  For some reason google mail is taking emails and adding them to the trash!  I have checked all the rules, but I cannot find the reason why.

In reviewing the contents of the trash I discovered several blog subscriptions about personal finance had found their way into a new home.  The funny thing was I had been so busy with life, I had not really noticed that they weren't in my inbox. I spent some time recovering the articles and moving them to my inbox, and as a temporary measure I monitor the trash each day to grab them out.

In reading an article this morning, it was talking about a process to journal what you are doing each day and how happy you are doing it.  The concept is that you find the times when you are most happiest and then spend more time doing those activities.

It has been an introspective week of mulling over a few things, so it was a timely read, and an epiphany that I had wandered a little off course.  By trying to focus on making everyone else happy, I had forgotten to take time to focus on what made me happy. 

I am most happiest when I am organised.  And in turn being organised allows me to focus on things that make me happy, and it improves the quality of the family life.  Each weekend the youngster has free range of technology or television, or any activity of choice up until 9:00 AM.  From there, there is a technology switch off.  We have followed this routine for many years, but of late things have slipped.  I have also noticed that stepping in the footsteps of an older brother has meant that there is some mimicking of the types of games he likes to play.  Within the bounds of what is age appropriated, I have allowed for this to occur.  But what I have noticed is that there is a distinct behavioural problem that occurs after playing time battling opponents. 

When being better organised, I am better able to ponder life's mysteries, and in turn this enables me to be a better parent.  The iPad has been lost at about 9:05 each morning, and has not been played any evening during the school week.  The result is that there is a forced down time to focus on other activities.  This in turn has resulted in the youngster being better organised, and an improvement in our relationship and her behaviour.

This morning at 9:05 AM she rushed out to advise that technology is to be off.  Initially I was annoyed, I bet that is her reaction at the 9:00 AM announcement!  I had spent the time working on reviewing the finances for end of month, adjusting the progress on goals, filing away some of the stack of paperwork that is on the desk and transferring photos ready for new blog updates.  I quickly recovered and put a note on the schedule for how I felt about the morning..  I remember that I actually like to cook each weekend.  To prepare options for lunch boxes and advance meals, and to take time to prepare for the family dinner night that occurs. 

I also love to minimise wastage, and reduce our grocery budget as much as possible.  Our weekly budget is $100 per week, and it has been this for several years.  Despite our family of two often being five, we still have not adjusted the weekly budget.  I have actually had time to go back and start menu planning for each week, tracking our progress against budget, and organising to have our groceries delivered.  In short, we eat better when we have more time, and it costs us less to do so.  I love the conversations from the youngster that occur about what is planned for dinner.

We took a look at the surplus items in the fridge and pantry, and made a bee line to whipping up a weetbix slice, complete with the Easter egg chocolate topping.  Instead of me doing all the cooking, I stepped aside and let the youngster take charge.  Now I am the first to admit, I have kitchen control issues, and they do not cope well with the cyclone child.  Despite all of this we managed to spend time learning about fractions, weights and temperature of melting chocolate.  This was a nice opportunity to review maths homework and to look at real life examples of how it is useful.

Unfortunately there is a requirement for some new winter pj's, so a trip to the shopping centre will be required, and that will not be chalked up on the happiness meter, I detest shopping.  But perhaps we can stop in to the nursery on the way home and grab some new herbs to replace the ones that the turkey pulled out over the weekend.  Now the pool table is gone, I have some spare room inside, so they can grow safely on this side of the glass!  We also need to wash the car, fill up the garbage bins and potter around the yard doing some odd jobs.


Cultural Goal 2015 # 2 - Paniyiri

It's the cultural goals each year that are the hardest to achieve.  Not because there is anything particularly difficult about them, but more due to the fact they do not normally roll around my little brain as the possibility of something I may consider.  I naturally gravitate towards concerts and sporting events, and my annual goals in this area serves to more anchor me back rather than inspire me to do more!
This year I went to see the acclaimed "Wicked" stage show, and it was fantastic.  When I saw that Dirty Dancing had made its way to a stage show, I was quite enthusiastic to pick up a couple of tickets to that.  But alas, said partner was not enthused to attend that one, and I was sent back to the drawing board to look at alternative cost effective options.
As we were driving past Musgrave Park on the route home, the youngster asked what was happening with the setup in there.  We then had a conversation about what Paniyiri was all about.  It must have been on her mind, as the next night she announces that apparently honey puffs are awesome, and she would like to try some.  We then made plans to find a spot in the weekend calendar to attend.

Whilst honey puffs were on the list of things to try, for me I wanted a souvilaki, and I must say it was delicious.  Half way through the honey puffs, I get the question about how many she needs to leave for Mummy to have a try.  I responded with a "3 would be good".  A few minutes later there was a "how about 5?"  Honey puffs are very filling!

We watched some Greek dancing in traditional costume whilst eating lunch, and then wandered around for a short while before heading home.  It was a slightly cheaper outing than the Dirty Dancing show, but this was an event that we actually did together rather than an adults date night.  Sun, food and fun......what's not to love.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Project Front Fence Update

As with all the projects that need a tradesman, this one is progressing at the pace of a snail.  I get used to arriving home each night, driving over the boarded up drawbridge, and looking at the lack of progress.  Today however I was mighty surprised by the....well progress?  I knew that we needed to get power from the front fence to the house, but I had not expected the cyclone to whip down through the middle of the garden!

Long gone are our natives where the birds sit each morning having their breakfast, the frangapani tree that is the unique colouring on the property and a stack of other darn plant that lived here for the past fifteen years!  Big sigh, oh well I now need to create a new project called front yard renovation post new front fence.

On the other view, the bricks are now up which was good news after leaving angry three brick layers at 6:15 AM this morning who were looking at where the pile of bricks should have been!

In an effort to make painting around the future fixtures a little easier, I took the paint can up to paint the two posts.  Another sigh, yes the electrician thinks that we can have lights on two different places on the pillars.  One will be centred and the other will be right on the edge.  Bound to look lovely I am sure.  Back on the phone with the coordinating tradesman.


Time to Replace the Car

Replacing the car has been on the list of things to do for several years.  I had tried to delay it until I had paid down my mortgage to a certain level.  But alas after more than six months of filling up the oil every week, then the water started to vanish as well.  The Bluetooth stopped working...and the frustration started to mount. 

The local mechanic was not helpful in alleviating the oil issue, so eventually it became time to part, before the engine went up in a gush of flames!  After picking out what I would like as a new car, said partner weighed in with the reminder that there are five in the family, and therefore I needed to compromise for this vehicle.

My initial reaction was not so excited, but after awhile and a few more litres of oil, and a price check on other options, I started to come around to the idea.  After scouring the net to determine what the deal should look like, I headed down to the Coast to chat to a dealer who had a demo model listed for sale.  The sales lady made sure I was comfortable for the discussion.

Supposedly the mini muffin, English breakfast tea and the soft drink was to limber me up for a easy sale.  I had planned a teleconference with a customer at 3:00 PM, so after the spiel on the test drive and the very scripted process of getting me to the pointy end of the pricing discussion, I politely referenced the pre-existing appointment, and left the lady hanging with an unfinished negotiation.

Meanwhile back home, the negotiation had to continue.  After the test drive I was happy to purchase the compromise vehicle, whilst the partner had done the 360 and thought the compromise vehicle was too small.  After some discussions the green light was signalled.  Promptly at 9:00 AM on the Monday morning, the lovely sales lady had rung to continue the journey.  By this time I was looking at some $600 of tyres which needed to be fitted at the end of the week, so I was keen to get the price in the desired range, and exit before the weekend.  Now the sales lady was backing up on end of month, and she needed the deal to go through that week also!  Turns out the deal was struck within a few minutes.

Fate then through in a customer meeting back down the Coast later that week, so I modified the schedule to allow time to swing by and swap vehicles.  Very slick process of having the personalised plates zipped from one vehicle to the next, then off to the display room to have the unveiling of the personalised plaque, said photo with the ribbon, and a flash of what's in the boot?

Matching hats for us both, Moet Champagne, wine glasses and Belgium chocolates.  Very nice!

Partner Surprise
Each year I love to attend live concerts and sporting events, I actually plan them into my annual goals program.  However, I had not ever been to a netball game.  In a general conversation whilst passing an advertising sign, dear partner let slip that a visit to watch the Firebirds play, was on the list of things to do.

Mental note made, and off I went to pick up a couple of surprise tickets, and an afternoon babysitter.  The games was really excellent, much better than I had anticipated.  The middle child is a sporting nut, and was quite disappointed at not making the starting two to see the netball.  Given the low price of the tickets in comparison to other professional sporting events, I will pick him up a ticket for a match next season.

Project - Front Fence

With a block of land spanning more than 3000 square metres, it feels like the fencing has been a never ending process over the fifteen years.  Thankfully, this is the last piece of the puzzle.  Although not scheduled to be done at this stage, the migration plan for cohabitation has commenced, and the family of five comes with a Golden Retriever.

Tonight upon arriving home, the hedges of the past decade have been torn out, and the foundations for the new wall are underway.


New Pets

After some local rain during vacation time, the girls managed to locate a tribe of snails.  Apparently Sam is a water snail, and Crystal is just your run of the mill snail.  After living at school for the past few days, the Director has instructed that the snails are relocated.  Given my child was one of the finders, she was desperate for her two snails to come home.

After several days of nagging me about what snails eat, do and how they live with friends....I finally agreed that the two gross little critters could come home.  We stopped by the cheap store to pick them up a new container, as I refused to let any of my current food containers become a new habitat for slimy and disgusting creatures, even if they do have names.

The next challenge was air holes for breathing.  I managed to find a very small drill bit and create some very professional air holes.  The child was bounding up and down with excitement.  She also whisked off the milk lid to create a bath tub of filtered water fun for the newbies.+

Lettuce was dished up in small bite sized bits, and the snail "schedule" was consulted.  We can feed them apples, mangoes, lettuce, carrots, limes...blah...blah...did I mention they I still think they are disgusting, and they have been banished to the laundry to live.  I have been told that they sleep and are awake at random times, of course I think that they are dead, but then Ruby the aquarium snail did lots of random things as well, and I often thought she was dead.


I am hoping this is a flash in the pan, well not literally given that we are not French!!  I have said at the appropriate time they should be set free to live their lives on the acreage :-)


Friday, May 22, 2015


I really don't understand the onesie craze.  I mean, "onesie" how is that even a real word.  Regrettably my 20 year old niece has decided to hand down her onsie to my nine year old.  Understandably the 20 year old is tiny, and the nine year old is tall....but the small adult size onesie is really way too big for both of them.

As you can imagine from the picture, eeyore has a long tail that seems to entice Mummy on the way up the hall each night.  So I skip along behind trying to land on it, giggling away that eeyore seems to have a really really saggy butt! 

The mornings are the funniest, you can never see the youngsters head, just a donkey lying on the pillow. 

Nutty Professor Lives Here

When we get birthday or Christmas gifts of things to do, I usually pull out a stack of the items and place them in the cupboard for future use.  This saves the everything open at one time, without really taking in each of the gifts. Consequently we have a misc cupboard of fun that gets used on those times when technology has been mandated to off and the instant boredom cry erupts "but I have nothing to do!"

On this occasion when I returned to the living room, the following spread was in play. 

Certainly looks like the Nutty Professor is in the middle of more than concocting bath bombs.   Hmm, maybe I should re-check the internet usage to ensure that no other ingredients are on the way for making bath bombs!!

Easter Bunny Lives On

As we approach ten this year, the chances of Easter Bunny continuing, diminish.  So it's a small blessing to still get to experience these precious moments.  These days the amount of help required by Mummy is almost negligible, with self sufficiency kicking in.

This year Easter Bunny also got a hand made carrot card.   But what she wanted most was for Easter Bunny to wake her up, so she could just get a glimpse of him.  When I explained that as old I was, I had never been able to meet him myself. After a few days of pondering, she decided that if he could just slip a photo under her pillow, that would suffice.

After a few days of pondering myself, I came up with a solution that may just work.  I decided to create a desktop background for her laptop, with an image of Easter Bunny, but his face wasn't facing the camera!

Of course, the. I needed to get her to turn the laptop on to see the handiwork!

Then to carefully arrange the display for completeness. 

The end result was super, and there was a shriek of delight very early the following morning, as well as some light hearted amusement at being outwitted by the Easter Bunny. She has vowed next year to be more specific on the photo requirements.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Peaceful Alignment

Tonight's menu plan was one designed to optimise youthful engagement and clear out the fridge of an assortment of odds and ends.  What better way to do that than with a pizza? 

Today the youngster bounded down the driveway with glee.  The long awaited purchase had arrived.  Armed with some Christmas cash we headed to the local shopping centre in search of an Enderman.  Parents who have children who play Minecraft are nodding now.  Turns out and Enderman is $18.  At the shocking news of the cost of have it now, the arms went on the hips and there was a gasp, frown and then a disgusted "that's too expensive". 

We had done our homework and knew that from Hong Kong and Enderman would set us back about $4 all up.  Only catch with Hong Kong is that you have to wait.  There is a double parenting lesson in that one from me, watch the money and be prepared to pay more to have instant gratification.  We in fact picked up a special Enderman that you cannot buy locally, and for the pleasure we were prepared to part with $5.80!

Pizzas are cool, so the apron was donned in a flash, along with Minecraft PJ's (yep, thanks Santa) and of course our new found friend offered assistance.

With the benefit of a no homework night, there is a little spare time.  Enough to have the budding chef do most of the work, without shedding a drop of blood when armed with the sharp knife.

One of the joys of pizza night is the quick check of the pantry to see if there are marshmallows present.  Check check, good to go.  Mummy had already ensured that the wood pile was well stocked from pre-lawn mowing checks, the small dropping branches quickly transformed into wood fire ready status and stacked beside the oven.  As the oven temperature prepares, the good chef scours the yard in search of the perfect roasting stick.

Living on the Western suburbs, our deck gives just the right place to be sitting to watch the sun go down.  Tonight we prepared a hasty picnic outside and sat back to enjoy the show.  With the relaxed atmosphere the opportunity to bond and talk about your day, life and answer many of the "Why" questions.  It is a time that I am sure in years to come we will both look back on and remember fondly.  Especially the lime green PJ's.

Our cost per pizza has certainly come way down, and the $200 or so dollars we spent a few years ago has been well worth the memories it has created.  Welcome to the family Mr or Ms Enderman ;-)


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Our First Mango!

One of the things we have loved about our acreage is the great delight we have taken in planting trees and plants and then harvesting.  We have enjoyed many an hour pottering around.  A few years ago we were given a mango tree, and with a ceremonious hole digging session, we plonked the little tree in.

It has been carefully watched each year in anticipation about what may one day come.  This year the little baby mangoes were everywhere and the family was giddy with excitement.  Of course then came the Summer storms and off the little darlings went.

We have since held our breathe, waiting to see how many would actually make it through.  And the lucky number is.....

Excellent counting!  Four!  The smallest one has now ripened sufficiently enough to be picked and transporting to our kitchen awaiting eating.  We will of course practice our seed growing as I attempt to harvest the pip out of the husk in a few weeks time.  It is akin to oyster shucking!  You prise the thing open, often stabbing yourself in the process, just to try and grab out the middle.  At least this thing is not all slimy and ready to be eaten!

Our first attempt grew roots but some how lost its way, more destined for the garbage bin instead of a ceremonious hole digging session.  Given that we have loads of patience, we shall simply try again with another few husks until we gain some success.


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Santa's Feast

During the school vacation program the kids made reindeer food.  I doubt even a reindeer could prepare for the mixture of oats, sugar and glitter.  I am sure it is the recipe that helps them fly.  Despite that, our plans for healthy eating this year have done remarkably well.  There were sufficient apple and carrots for each of the reindeer, and I was instructed to Google to make sure we had exactly enough!  Santa of course likes milk, and this Santa loves Tim Tams :-)

The great news is that self sufficiency has taken over, and I am no longer needed for any prep work.


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Preparing for Christmas

At nine, the spirit and excitement of Santa Clause are no doubt approaching the end.  For this year, the letter to Santa was quickly drafted without the assistance of mum.  And at nine, well we are all good for taking up both sides of the A4 page for Santa.  Upon inspecting said letter to Santa, this is what I found;

In the bottom left hand corner was a please turn over notation.  Just in case Santa is not good at understanding primary school writing, there are some pictures to help guide the way.  Although letters to Santa are all about what I want, I was really pleased that she left the door open for Santa to get anything else he wanted, and letting him know that was "okay"!

Before I headed out to post the letter, I noticed that it had had a minor revision.