Monday, January 30, 2006

First Day of School!

We got through the first day of school relatively intact. No, there were no tears although I have to say that I was browsing through old photos of the girl last night and it was hard to imagine how fast she had grown up. Seems like only yesterday she was just crawling around and now she's off to school. Well, I got to admit it's a big step, not just for her but for us as well.

The day started relatively early, we got up around 7 and got both of them to have breakfast, a wash up and a change of clothes. Of course, the wife prepared everything last night: the lunches, the school uniform, the bag etc. so it was not hard to get them both ready.

The school is only a short ride from our home so we were there at about 8:30. School doesn't start till 8:45 but we joined the ranks of early parents sending their child to school for the first time. Cameras at the ready, we brought the kids to the classroom and helped them settle in. The teachers were extra nice and they let the kids ( and the parents ) feel welcome right away. We didn't hang around too long as the girl was more or less busy, getting stuck into the play dough and drawing with crayons right away. She got a bit shy at first as she didn't know too many of the kids but she was ok after a bit.

My wife picked her up later when school ended at 3PM. The teacher said she had a good first day and the girl said she had fun. She's slowly getting the hang of it and I think so should we.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Getting Ready For School

It kind of sneaked up on us but our little girl is going to be starting school on Monday! Wow, after so long she's finally starting full time school. She's certainly ready for it. This week we got her complete school uniform, from the hat, the shoes, the bag to even the sports uniform and socks. All the school books and notepads and pens she'll be getting from the school so we didn't have to do too much school shopping for her.

We're still trying to figure out the logistics of it all, like what school lunches to prepare, who's going to pick her up on certain days, who's going to do homework with her etc. etc. We've need to make sure we prepare stuff the night before, ensure that she gets breakfast and get her ready and at the school gate before 8:30. So much to do! I wonder if my own parents went through this.

I remember when we were growing up and getting ready for elementary school almost always meant new school uniforms ( at least for me being the eldest ), new bags, new notebooks and pens. Our mother would often take us shopping for school stuff at Cang's Department Store. It was easier then because SUES always had a list for the parents on what school supplies to buy. I remember the books we'd buy or rent from the school, Mom would always get those books covered for us in clear plastic before school starts.

There was always a certain palpable excitement when a new school year starts. I'd be eager to see old friends after summer break, eager to break in the new notebooks and pens, heck, I got to admit, I was often eager to learn.

Right now, the girl's only going into what is known here as Reception, one year before she enters Year 1 ( or Grade 1 ). She's excited and she's raring to go. She probably doesn't know what she's getting into yet, i.e. going to school everyday, but I hope she doesn't get lazy about it too soon and not lose her eagerness.

Australia Day Photos

Turban Snails

Turban Snails 1
Originally uploaded by chazzvid.
Bianca wanted to bring some Turban Snails home from the beach. We kept them for a while but had to throw them out. Bianca said she'd miss them and she prodded us to take pictures of the snails and put it on the website.

Turban Snails 2Hermit CrabTurban Snails 3

Friday, January 27, 2006

My Daddy's the Best

A few days ago, Bianca attended a friend's birthday party. While all the little girls were happily playing dress-ups, Bianca came out in tears. I was thinking, here we go again as maybe its the usual tug-of-war on a toy. But this time it was different.

She told me ... "My friend told me her dad is the bestest daddy in the world. But my daddy is the bestest daddy in the world!". In my mind I was thinking, "Awww .... how sweet. But quick, think of something appropriate to say now! What would Kofi Annan say in this situation? ".

After a few seconds I said "You have different worlds, her daddy is the best in her world. And your daddy is the bestest daddy in your world."

And with that, the tears stopped and she went back into the room to play with them again. Whew ... crisis averted. I have to be prepared for more of these tricky situations next time.

Australia Day 2006

The whole country celebrated Australia Day yesterday. It's a big national holiday akin to America's Fourth of July. Aussies of all backgrounds go out and do the whole Australian bit like going to the Cricket, having a barbie, take to the beach and watch fireworks later in the evening.

We weren't sure what we would be doing for Australia day but it was a good thing our friends knew of a great place about an hours drive from our house which was perfect spot for a picnic. It was a place called Hallet Cove which had a nice park next to cliffs overlooking a rocky beach. There was a playground and barbecue facilities and covered picnic areas which was perfect.

It was our first time to be in Hallet Cove and the drive there took us past the city and down towards the coast again. Our friends discovered the place quite by accident by driving around. It's suprising that although we've been in Adelaide far longer that they have, they were able to find this great spot before us. I guess we're not too much into exploring then. :)

We and our friends got there mid-morning hoping to be early just in case the place might be packed with other picnic goers but we were surprised that it was just us there. Our friends have a daughter and the kids had a great time exploring the playground and the sea shore. It wasn't a sandy beach so it wasn't too good for swimming but they had fun wading in the rock pools and picking up different shells and stuff.

As the kids were playing, we got the steaks cooking on the barbecue and soon the aroma of sizzling meat was enough to get our mouths watering! :)

We thought we'd stay all day but we had to get back by mid-afternoon because they boy's skin was drying out and we forgot to bring moisturizer. He was feeling uncomfortable already and was scratching like crazy. But despite that, we still had a great time meeting up with our friends and celebrating Australia day outdoors for once.


I found our digital camera acting up yesterday. It couldn't extend the lens now but after some manual fiddling I can still get it to work. I'll post pictures of the picnic soon.

Monday, January 23, 2006

You get what you pay for...

Here's a picture of the gazebo we set up in our backyard. Alas, a picture is all we have left as strong winds brought down the gazebo yesterday. When we got home from church we saw the gazebo all broken on the ground. It didn't even last a week! Grrr...

We only had it for a couple of days but at least we got some use out of it. Even if it was only for a few hours. Oh well, it's not a total loss, I think we can still use it if the weather's not too windy. It was only a cheap thing but I guess one gets what one pays for.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

My Busy Face

I was watching the Australian Open tennis on TV tonight and my daughter approached me wanting something. She was in the middle of explaining what she wanted and I have got to admit that I was distracted because of the tennis on TV. That's when she said, "Daddy, you can't play with me because you're busy!"

I asked her, "How do you know I'm busy?"

She said "Because you have your busy face on." I then asked, "What does my busy face look like?"

She then pursed her lips together and squinted her eyes in perfect imitation of my face when I'm concentrating on something. "Like this!" she said adorably, "You only play with me when you have your happy face on like this." And she broke out in a huge grin.

My kids know me so well...

Saturday, January 21, 2006


temperature reading

Today's temp at 5 PM!

Friday, January 20, 2006

Heat Wave!

Adelaide is experiencing a very bad heat wave. It's been hovering between 37C and 45C for the past 3 days now. The weatherman is saying this is going to be the hottest 72 hours the state has experienced since the 1940's!

Needless to say, the kids have been cooped up at home, just trying to stay cool as our ducted evaporative air conditioner is struggling to cope with the extreme heat. It's too hot to go outside and the malls and beaches are full with families trying to escape the heat.

Yup, this is the Adelaide summer and it's HOT!

We went out yesterday night to buy a cheap, temporary gazebo. We thought we could set it up over the kids' little paddling pool so they can at least have some shade if they wanted to play in the backyard.

So, we spent over an hour last night setting it up, getting all the pieces together and tying it down tight. And do you know how long the kids spent in the paddling pool today? Only 15 minutes!

Oh well, it was probably too hot anyway... :) Hope the cool change will come soon.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The Big Rocking Horse

Because we still had the car for another day, we decided to make the most of it and go on another drive to visit the big rocking horse. Excuse me, that should say The Big Rocking Horse. This huge edifice is actually a famous South Australian landmark and tourist attraction. It was build partly to promote the wooden toys produced at the local toy factory. The horse and factory is located in a town called Gumeracha, about half an hour's drive from the city to the northeast in a region called the Adelaide Hills. The last time we were there, the boy was only a few months old so it was quite a treat for both the kids to go this time.

We left a bit late in the morning and the drive took us through the hills, past pine tree forests and the lake reservoir and vineyards. When we got to the town, it was already almost lunch so after playing a bit on the horse, we just grabbed some hotdogs from the local cafe and ate at one of the many picnic benches there.

We then checked out the toy factory and the kids had a grand time looking and playing with the various hand made wooden toys for sale there. They even took a couple of wooden motorcycles for a spin around the toy shop! Although, it wasn't long when the girl was already bugging us to buy something, so we spent some time looking around for small toys to buy and bring home.

Adjacent to the toy factory was a mini bird sanctuary and it was free to get in so we went there after we were done with the toys. It has quite a variety of birds like ducks, peacocks and black swans so before we went in we bought a bag of bird feed to make sure we get a chance to be up close to the birds. Although most of the birds were ok, it was the swans that were actually a bit aggressive. They would crowd us hungry for feed and I even noticed that another girl there got her hand pecked. They're even big birds! Bigger than the kids even. After we finsihed feding the birds, we started back but not before purchasing a couple of peacock feathers to bring home as souvenirs.

All in all, a nice day. One thing disappointed me though. The last time we were there, the cafe served some excellent fried chicken that reminded us of Jollibee Chicken Joy. Unfortunately, this time they had the chicken off the menu so we had to settle for the hot dogs. Not that the kids were complaining though. ;)

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Our Mini Holiday

We took a day-trip to visit what is known as South Australia's Fleurieu Peninsula. The Fleurieu is a short drive from south/southwest of Adelaide and is known for it's many wineries, farms and coastal towns and beaches.

We've been in Adelaide for more than 3 years now and this is the first time that we've actually driven around and saw more of the state. We only planned for a daytrip this time and our goal was to reach a town called Victor Harbor which is one of the biggest towns in the Fleurieu boasting of many tourist type attractions. We figured we could take the long way to Victor, stop and have a picnic lunch at a small town along the way, and then go back up to Adelaide in the late afternoon.

The day was a bit overcast when we started and it remained so throughout the day. This actually suited me fine because a blazing summer sun would be sure to have given us sunburn through the untinted windows of the rental car. We started early, around 8:30 and arrived at our first destination, Strathalbyn, an hour later. There we stopped and had a picnic at the park and the kids had a chance to check out the local park and the local wildlife ( ducks! )

Strathalbyn is a small picturesque country town and it had the small country town feel. There were quite a few old buildings and wide open spaces and the folks we saw there were friendly. We managed to strike up a conversation with a couple who were walking their dogs. The kids were a bit shy at first about petting the cute little terriers but they got over it right away.

From there, Victor Harbor was only an hour away and we managed to get their without getting too lost ( ok , I took a slightly wrong turn! ) and we got there on schedule. The sky was still cloudy and it was even a bit cold as we got out of the car which was to me quite unusual for the middle of summer. It's a good thing my wife insisted on bringing warm jumpers for all of us!

We thought we had it all planned out and we'd see a few of the main attractions like looking at penguins and see the Whale Centre but our kids had different ideas. They spied a carnival near the foreshore and I got roped into a Jumping castle with them not 10 minutes after we arrived!

After that, we attempted to walk to Granite Island, a small island off Victor Harbor connected via a railway bridge. We weren't too keen on taking the kids down a 2KM walk over the bridge to look at the penguins so we ended up playing in the sand instead. It's a pity it was a bit cold as the kids would have loved jumping into the water.

We then had a little stroll to the busy Victor Harbor town center and had lunch at a little fish and chips shop. The kids were then a bit restless at this point, raring to burn off some energy so we took them to the playground ( again ) and they had a great time playing with all the other kids there.

By mid-afternoon, we decided to head back to Adelaide. On the way back we stopped and did some strawberry picking. It was a good experience for us as this was the first time we actually got to pick strawberries. We stopped at the Agon Berry Farm shop front along the highway, paid for a plastic punnet ( only $6 which would hold about a kilo of strawberries ) and drove down the opposite side of the shop to where the strawberry fields were.

It seems that it's pretty popular place as most of the strawberries in the nearer bushes were picked clean and we and a few others had to go to the other end of the field to really start filling up our punnet. Of course, both kids had a grand time doing this, searching for the red strawberries and coming to us with one berry at a time! It took a while but we eventually got enough to fill our punnet and then some.

On the way home, we passed lush McLaren Vale scenery. McLaren Vale is home to many of Australia's top vineyards and wine producers and the view from the top of Mt. Compass was a nice change from the view of drab motorways and roads.

The drive back home was uneventful and we got home safe and sound. It didn't seem to bad with the kids in the back seat and because we still missed a few sights and attractions this time around, we would definitely be going back for more next time.

Nico can Read!

When Nico turned 2 years old, we noticed he was quite interested with letters and numbers. Hence I printed out big letters and numbers and put them on the kitchen walls to make them familiar to him. A few months later, he learned to sing the ABCs and count up to 20 all by himself. We started reading books to him, and at first he would just be quiet and take it all in. But one day, when I wasn't looking he picked up a familiar book and started to read the words out. Now, that was amazing!

Now that he is about 3 months away from his 3rd birthday, we noticed he can read a few words. Here are some examples that happened recently:

1. I was reading an article on the computer and he wanted to sit on my lap so that he can have a hold of the mouse to get his computer games started. And so to distract him, I pointed to the title of the article I was reading that written in big letters. At first I asked him what the letters were in each word, and he got them all. Next I asked him, 'what does that say?', and then he said "Let ... It ... Go'.

2. While were were inside a shop today looking at beds, he went back to the entrance and started jumping on the welcome mat. I assumed he was trying to find a way out and push the door open, but he stayed there. From a distance, it looked like he was talking to himself. When I came closer I heard him calling out the letters of the word on the mat. At the end of all the letters he paused for a moment and just blurted out ... 'Welcome!'.

3. When we were on the tram, I noticed that just before each stop he would say 'next stop' and would go down the seat as if he was going down from the tram himself. At figured, he was just being restless as usual. But soon I noticed it was just happening too often. He kept pointing to something behind me shouting 'next stop' again and again. And so I looked behind me and there it was a sign that said 'NEXT STOP'. And it would light up whenever people would be going down on the next tram station.

Looks like he is well on his way to reading, even sooner than his big sister. It also worth mentioning that Bianca's love of reading has rubbed off on her little brother. There are even times she would insist on reading the books to him to give me a break. Thank goodness!

Friday, January 13, 2006

Road Trip!

We're going on a road trip tomorrow! Nothing far, just a short jaunt down the coast to a seaside town. It would be the first time we'd be taking the kids on a long(ish) drive so we'll see how we fare.

We also rented a car for the occasion. It's not because our own small sedan couldn't handle the drive but I've always wanted to find out how it feels to drive an SUV and I figure this is the best chance I have of getting behind the wheel of one.

The kids seem excited and I hope they behave during the drive. Wish us luck!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Kid Funnies Part 7

We were sitting at the table eating dessert and I was holding on to the spoon. The kids were coming to me for their next spoonful of jelly and I was dutifully dishing it out to them. The girl then says to me, "How about one for Jesus, Daddy?" She's learned early on that Jesus and God were all around and invisible and she always refers to them as part of the family.

So, I took a spoon and raised it over my head acting as if I was feeding someone there. The girl laughed and said, "A little lower Daddy, Jesus is a kid!"

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

First Visit to the Dentist

For some people, visiting the dentist can be quite scary ... especially if you did not have a pleasant experience with them when you were young. Hence, I wanted to make sure that my kids do not go thru life with a fear of the dentists. After all, if you teach them early enough to take care of their teeth, then going to the dentist should not be so unpleasant.

Today, we scheduled my daughter's first visit to the dentist. It was a brand new clinic close to home. When we got there, I filled out a form and Bianca was given a choice between two stuffed toys she could bring inside - she chose a grey poodle named 'Frenchie'. It was a bit of a wait, but she was happy platying with her new friend 'Frenchie'. When she was called in by the dental assistant, she was eager to go and sit on the chair. The lady dentist then explained to her that they will raise and recline the chair, and have her lie down. Since the light can be bright, they got her to wear some shades.

She was asked to open her mouth, and the dentist proceeded to count her teeth: 10 up and 10 down, for a total of 20. I was also told that in the next 12 months to expect all her 4 permanent molars to come out - ouch! They also performed a little cleaning with a tutti-frutti kind of paste, and finished of with a flouride solution that was painted on her teeth to keep them strong.

After this she was asked what it tasted like, but she did not know. "Maybe bubblegum ?", the dental assistant prompted her. "Mommy, what is bubblegum?" was the response she got. I had to explain that she's not much into the sweet-stuff like chocolates, candies, soft-drinks. Thank goodness!

One question I was dying to ask the dentist was "Are we cleaning her teeth well enough?", and to this she said 'yes'. Whew! All that effort to get them to brush their teeth since they were about a year old finally paid off. Must keep it up for the next 20 years, ha!

She was very well-behaved during the whole session that the dentist gave her a special sticker that she proudly stuck on her shirt! At the end of it all, she returned the toy to the receptionist in exchange for some more stickers ,colouring pages and a new toothbrush ... a pink one ofcourse.

For me it was really good to see that they make it a pleasant experience for both child and parent. It was so good that Bianca mentions the dental visit as the 'most fun thing' she did today. So good it was for me that I booked an cleaning appointment for mylself next month! Too bad I could not bring my little boy just yet ... I don't think he will sit still long enough for the dentist to count his teeth, hehehe.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Fun at the Adelaide Aquatic Center

We did promise the kids that we'd do something fun today and that we did. We went and spent some time at the Adelaide Aquatic Center. After the hot day yesterday, I guess we were raring to hit the pool. We started early, around 9:30 and I'm glad that we did because the parking lot to the Aquatic centre was almost filled with families who also had the same idea.

This was actually our first time to be at the center so it was a good experience for us. The center was huge. Imagine 2 olympic size swimming pools, a diving platform, several recreational pools for kids of all ages, a water slide, spas, hot tubs and a gym all under one roof. It even the usual cafe and sort of pro shop. Even the change and locker rooms were large! No wonder, the place was packed even that early in the day.

We queued up to get in, paid a small fee and went straight to the kiddie pools. We just stayed in the shallow area cordoned off for the toddlers. Even though it wasn't too deep, the kids still had fun just splashing around in the water and playing. There were a lot of other kids there too and it didn't take long for them to start playing together. Our kids make friends quite easily which is good to know.

As for us parents, we were pretty much content to just sit in the water with them and play along. It was nice to get out of the heat of yesterday.

We didn't stay too long because as it got later a lot more people were coming into the center and our kids seemed to have had their fill of the water. So we bundled them up to the separate locker rooms and got changed. A quick snack of fries and juice and off we went. All in all, not a bad first outing to the Aquatic Centre.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Late Spring Cleaning

For almost a year now, we could only park our car outside our house despite the fact that we have a serviceable garage. Accumulated clutter was taking up the space where our car should go. We decided once and for all to do a thorough clear out and to finally make room for the car again.

Now, normal rubbish collection would not do when one is attempting spring cleaning so we used our city council's hard refuse collection service. It's basically a truck that goes around that picks up people's old junk, from old refrigerators, bed mattresses to large cardboard boxes and other such items that won't fit in the rubbish bin or recyclables. We had to book a time for the pick up almost a month in advance. Despite the long lead time, we couldn't just put our junk outside as this would be considered littering and we had to wait until the day before the scheduled time to put it outside.

That's basically what we did all day today, sorting and carrying junk out to the front of the house where the truck can pick it up. We started early because we knew it was going to be another hot day. We threw out quite a lot of old stuff like old pillows, cardboard boxes ( from kids toys ), broken chairs etc. While we were also in a cleaning mood, we went ahead and threw out an old mattress and re-arranged furniture inside the house as well. All that plus we had to keep the kids occupied throughout the day. And all this in 34ºC heat! ( that's 93.2ºF )

We know that the kids are getting pretty antsy these school holidays. The girl has been very vocal about her boredom lately so we hope to be able to take them to the pool tomorrow. After a day like today, we all deserve it.

Before photo.

After the cleanup.
What we threw out!
Proof of our succcess.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Kid Funnies Part 6

The wife was retelling a conversation she had with the girl today. She wanted to draw Tigger and she was having a hard time. She asked my wife to do it for her, but my wife isn't exactly that good with drawing. My wife started drawing as best she could but couldn't get it quite right.

Daughter: "I think I can copy this, Mommy".

Daughter takes another sheet of paper and finishes the drawing.

Mother: "Well done! That's great!"

Daughter: "I did it because I'm so clever!"

Wife: "That's right..."

Daughter: "... and you're not!"

LOL! Out of the mouths of babes...

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Happy Birthday Mother Dear!

Everyone who's ever met my mother will always say how grateful they are to have known her. In her work as a doctor she has helped a multitude of people in and around our home town. She had a reputation as one of the nicest doctors around to a point she'd have patients from neighboring provinces come to see her at her clinic. I remember spending time at the clinic and marvel at the volume of people who would patiently wait to be seen by her. I always felt proud just sitting there and knowing that all those people were there to see my mom, knowing that they held her in great respect and trust.

Our mom did her best to impart in us the right values while we kids were growing up. Even though my mom was probably one of the busiest doctors in the city, balancing life at home and work came easily for her and we kids never lacked for anything. She'd always say to us that the parents commitment to the kids was first and foremost education. We got that and more from her. We got love, understanding and caring from the best mom we could ever hope for. If my wife and I do well by our own children, then it is in no small part thanks to her and dad who have been an inspiration.

It's because of her that I am the man I am today, that I face parenthood with the joy and enthusiasm that I have seen in her.

Happy Birthday Mommy, we love and miss you and hope to see you soon.

PS. Call you soon! :)

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Birthday Photos

Birthday Pictures

Bianca's Day

Last year, we had a party held here at home with all the trimmings. This meant lots of prepation for home-made party food, balloons and even a party game or two. This year, we decided to have a low-key celebration - just for the family. Easier said than done ... soon enough the celebrant was asking why she could not have a party and invite her friends? So we tried to explain that this birthday will be different, just a day out to watch a movie and visit the beach, and then back home for some birthday cake and home-made spaghetti. She did not look happy with that explanation. Until a few seconds later, she said in an excited voice - "Mommy, I have an idea! Can I invite my toys to my birthday party ? ". With our consent, she chose which toys were coming and made party hats for them with paper. Gee, talk about seeing the silver lining among the dark clouds! Some kids would have performed a full-bown tantrum in this situation. However, she knew how to make the potentially bad situation into a good one.How did she do that?! I must admit, that's great attitude for a 5 year old ... making us even more proud of her than ever before.

This special day started with her opening all her birthday presents, most of which were things to get her ready for school that starts in a couple of weeks. And then we all went out to watch "Chicken Little". I must say this was the best experience we've had watching movies with kids. For the first time, we did not have to leave our seats to run after our little boy! For lunch we went to the city and rode an old-fashioned tram to go to the beach. We had lunch and ice cream, then proceeded to play in the sand for a little while. Upon returning home , we were able to get phone calls from the the grandparents and they wished her a happy birthday. She really enjoyed that.

To cap off the day, we all had a spaghetti dinner and cake, which was yummy! The cake was decorated with pink ballerinas and candles ... that really made her day. We took a slice of the cake with candles and she blew it again in front of her toys. Ofcourse, Nico wanted to have a turn at blowing the candles so we lighted them up this a couple more times.

At the end of this very busy day as we were putting her to bed, we started talking about the highlights of the day. She enjoyed the movie, the phone calls from the grandparents and the birthday cake and party with the toys. She did like the gifts we gave her to use at school but then she said, "Next time, please get me something I can play with." Something to keep in mind for next year, she's still a little kid after all.

Monday, January 02, 2006

A Birthday Today!

Five years ago we spent New Years Eve in a hospital room surrounded by duty nurses and other expectant mothers. We watched the New Year's Eve fireworks on the teeny tiny hospital TV set. We were up that whole night waiting for the big one but it didn't come.

My wife and I spent the next morning walking around the hospital grounds hoping that gravity would do its work but to no avail. The morning stretched into the afternoon, and the afternoon stretched into the evening. Finally the evening went past and it was indeed already late at night and we couldn't wait any longer. The doctor finally went and performed the operation at 2AM and the first cries of a newborn baby filled the air.

Our bouncing baby girl finally arrived and our world has been all the better for her.

Happy Birthday, to our darling daugther. Know that your big family loves and adores you and wishes you that all good things come to you this day. We love you!

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Fireworks on TV

Happy New Year!!