Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Happy Birthday to Me!

As much it embarasses me to admit this, its my 37th birthday tomorrow and somehow, I can't help but notice how my birthday celebrations have changed over the years.

As a kid I was not accustomed to the regular birthday parties where there would be lots of other kids, balloons, cake and candles to blow. After all, I had five other siblings, so the the family was all I needed to celebrate. My birthday celebrations were mostly low-key events, a special dinner of my choice with the family was enough to make my day. Birthday gifts were not really necessary, but very much appreciated whatever came my way. After college, celebrating with different groups of friends became the annual ritual. This was expensive, lots of of sleep lost due to late nights but still lots of fun. Now that I have a family, the birthdays I really look forward to are those of my kids. As for my birthdays, I've gone back to the low-key celebrations with my hubby and kids here in Adelaide. Must be a sign of getting old. I am not even comfortable with the idea of admitting it is my birthday to other people, and especially not celebrating with a party anymore.

But all that has changed this time because Bianca simply insists on it! In her mind, all birthdays should be celebrated in one way or another as we have done with her. It may not be a party all the time, sometimes a picnic, a movie or a trip to the beach will do. When she found out I was having a birthday soon, she insisted that I invite my friends over this weekend and celebrate. And since she (and her little brother) is the boss of this family, I suppose I have no choice! Hubby has even eagerly volunteered to cook (more than his usual share) for this celebration.

After all, there is much to celebrate as we are all in good health, good company, and good spirits and quite grateful to be where we are now. At this age we start counting our blessings more ... because its much more fun that counting the candles on my cake, hehehe.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Australia 0 - Italy 1

Australia was not expected to win this match but they definitely did not deserve to lose like this.  They took the game to the Italians and dominated possession for much of the game until the last minute. 

With seconds remaining in the game clock, the referee saw what no one else in the stadium saw which was a diving Italian forward Fabio Grosso after a challenge from Lucas Neill which in no way touched him.  

The Spanish referee awarded a penalty kick which sealed Australia's fate and that knocked them out of the second round.

All I can say is we were robbed! 

But one thing's for sure, Australia soccer has won and we can see the game just get better Down Under.  

Until the next world cup... Go the Socerroos!!

Friday, June 23, 2006

Australa 2 - Croatia 2

And the dream lives on!  Australia makes it through to the 2nd round of the World Cup.  It was a hard fought match with the Soccerroos clawing back from being a goal down from the 2nd minute.  Australia only needed a draw on this game to advance to the knockout round of 16.

The game started at 4:30AM so I had to sleep early to make sure I woke up for the start.  I was on tenterhooks and when Harry Kewel scored the tying goal in the 79th minute I just leaped out of bed and shouted for sheer joy waking up my poor wife! 

It's a historic win as it's Australia's first time into the 2nd round of the World Cup ever!  The streets of Melbourne and Sydney are going off and filled with people celebrating the win.  There were live viewing sites in the cities and these people were up all night watching the huge game on TV.  In the middle of winter, that's commitment!

We will be facing Italy in a knockout game in four days.  It would be another sleepless night for many!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Burger Machine

One of the many things we invariably miss about the Philippines when we moved to Australia was the food. We miss the home cooking, the Pinoy restaurants and even just being able to afford dining out many times a week. Eating out here is not cheap and is something we don't really do very often.

It's not just the upscale restaurants we miss but even the cheap ones. Especially the cheap ones! One of those experiences I look back on was the simple pleasures of eating at a Burger Machine. Burger Machine stands were all over the place back in Manila. They would almost always be located in street corners or main traffic intersections. Sure, their burgers weren't probably all beef, and maybe the carbon monoxide from the passing traffic contributed to the uniqueness of the experience but I sure do miss those burgers.

They were cheap, and a quick feed. I remember grabbing a BM burger for lunch on the weekends on my way out of the Quezon City apartment I used to live in. It was quick and it was cheap and yes, it was tasty!

This weekend we cooked up a close approximation of the BM burger. I find that a topping of coleslaw and banana ketchup on a pure beef burger tastes almost like the real BM thing.

Mixing minced beef and chopped onions together with a dash of Worcestershire and Maggi Seasoning makes a good wholesome beef patty. Frying the patties up and serving them on a soft Aussie damper roll with store bought coleslaw and UFC banana ketchup makes me feel like I'm sitting in one of those Burger Machine stands all over again. Less the traffic and pollution, of course.

But, I admit, the Burger Machine burger never looked as big or as good as this.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Reception School Interview

We had an interview with our daughter's teachers this week. It's a parent/teacher meeting to update us about how she's been doing at school. It's sort of a mid-term review of her performance in school.

I'm happy to report that the teachers were particularly impressed with how she's performing. No surprises really and it was good to know that she's doing really well.

Just a few of the things her teachers mentioned:
  • Although she reads at an excellent pace, her teachers are focusing on her writing skills as they weren't at the same level as her reading. Thanks to them, it has vastly improved over the school term.
  • She needs to learn not to take herself too seriously. She has to know that it's ok to laugh at one's mistakes as sometimes she's so serious about getting things right.
  • She's one of those students who can be trusted to see tasks through to completion. "You can trust her to get it done," as one of her teachers said.
  • She apparently gets frustrated sometimes when she's working with other kids in a group and they don't listen to her to do the right things. She cried one time when the kids in her group didn't do what she thought what was asked although the teachers did say that she was right at the time.
  • She helps read and explain tasks to her other classmates.
  • In her reading, she needs to learn more ways to attack or figure out unfamiliar words. Her teachers also encouraged us to push her to read more advanced reading material. More novellettes and less picture books, I think.
  • She knows she does well in school but she's not big-headed about it. Apparently she's a very popular girl as she's very helpful and kind and a friend to many.
Not to toot our own horns or anything but there was no huge surprises really. Our early introduction to reading with her has helped her out a lot in school and we're glad that her friendly nature has shone through as well. Gosh, I think we're doing well as parents.

Here's hoping the teenage years aren't too bad. And if they are, we can always have this blog post to reminisce on.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Australia 0 - Brazil 2

Brazil football magic have claimed another victim in the Socerroos early today. I watched the match until the wee hours of the morning and although the result didn't go the Aussie's way, the team did themselves proud in facing the challenge of the world champoions with the same fighting spirit that's earned the respect of many football nations.

After the scoreless first half, the Australians proved that they could keep up with the Brazilians. The score belies the effor the Aussies put into that second half with almost half a dozen chances to score. Second half substitute Harry Kewell found himself an open goal that would have only required a tap in to produce a tie but, alas, it was not to be as the ball sailed wide.

Although the result did not go our way, we were never expected to win that match at all. Of course I was disappointed but then I guess I was just hoping against hope that we could get a result. However, the Socerroos have a significant chance to make it to the 2nd round this time if they keep the same composure and spirit the gave Brazil against Croatia.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Adelaide's Coldest Day

Adelaide just experienced its coldest winter day in 24 years.  For most of the week we were waking up to frosty mornings but yesterday, temperatures plunged to a record 0.6ºC.   This made for almost icy conditions, at least as icy as Adelaide is ever going to get.

The frost was everywhere.  It was on cars, on lawns and on rooftops.  I've seen frost here before but it was never this thick.  As I was taking my daughter to school, I had half a mind to walk through the frosty ground and pretend it was snow!

Cars parked outside had their windshields covered with thick frost.  It's not as thick as what you get in North America but it's still a hassle shaving the frost off.  

Can't wait for this winter to be over ( in 2 months... )

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Australia 3 - Japan 1

It's got to be good to be an Aussie today! The Australian Soccerroos finish their first game at the World Cup football finals with flair. Down 1 - 0 for most of the match, Australia scored 3 goals in the last 7 minutes courtesy of Tim Cahill and John Aloisi. It was a nail-biting match with lots of missed opportunities and a dubious goal but in the end the never say die attitude of Australia shone through.

The match started 10:30 at night so with the whole family sleeping I was in the living room muffling my cheers. It's only the first game of the first round but it bodes well so far. Roll on Brazil!

Monday, June 12, 2006

My Cooking Adventures

Growing up, I've never had any interest in cooking. With our ever present cook cum driver cum everything else Takoy doing all the cooking at home, we never needed to step foot in the kitchen. Of course, there was the odd fried egg or hotdog but I never had to cook up a meal for the family.

Since coming to Australia, I can say my cooking skills have improved dramatically. Well, I'm not cooking restaurant style meals but at the very least they are more than just edible these days.

When I first arrived here, I was still looking for work so made myself useful to my new wife around the house. I did the cleaning and washing up but then I discovered cooking shows on TV. Watching those shows, I found it fascinating how effortless the perky TV chefs make out cooking to be. It helped of course that the food they whipped up always looked gorgeous.

Then I got my hands on the classic Nora Daza recipe book and saw that cooking was just merely as easy as following instructions on a sheet of paper. Well, at least I thought it was easy so the first thing I cooked out of that book was a Paella Velenciana for my wife's birthday. Talk about work! I spent what seemed like the whole day just preparing ingredients, from cutting meat to chopping vegetables. It was then that I found that I actually like doing the chopping, the feel of the kitchen knife in my hand as I methodically cut through the onions and garlic. Surprisingly, the paella was actually quite good and my wife sometimes asks me to cook it on special occasions.

Since then I've been able to tackle different recipes and I'm happy to report I haven't caused any major food poisonings. I've been able to cook a variety of dishes but always with a recipe book in my hands. Although I know my way around a kitchen now, I don't think I'm confident enough to cook a dish without a recipe. I guess I'm still a techie guy: I still need a set of instructions to show me how to assemble the right components.

Nowadays, the weekends are the only time I can cook and I would often commandeer the kitchen from my wife. I'd normally cook simple and ordinary meals for the family but now and again I get semi-inspired and try to cook something I've never tried before. Which brings me to the reason for this cooking post. I tried my hand at an Italian classic last night, Osso Buco, and I dare say I think I got it right on my first attempt. Well, at least my wife seemed to think so but she eats (almost) everything I cook, anyway. :)

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Action Shots!

Just a couple of action shots to show how active the kids are all the time. Here's the boy chasing me in our backyard.

Here's our girl conquering the monkey bars for the first time.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Happy Birthday, Lolo Dadad!

I know you are doing well up there and we just wanted to wish you a very happy birthday. The kids miss you and we hope to see you guys soon. Take care and we'll call you at home later. :)

Start of Winter

Our little girl is well and truly over her illness now.  She's been in school for the past 2 weeks and so far so good.

However, it won't be long until that nasty virus makes it's way around the family.  This morning we found that the boy had a little temperature.  Not too high but still not the normal 36.5ºC.  I hope it won't be too bad as he seems to be made of hardier stuff.. :)

It's been a real cold start to the winter, with temps already down to single digits over night.  Over weekend we're expecting it to reach down to 3ºC and I'm dreading sinus headaches that come with cold weather.

Over the past few weeks, the wife and I had taken to tending what amounts to our little garden.  We've cut and pruned quite a lot from our lavender, rosemary and rose bushes.  We haven't touched those plants in years ever since we moved into the house and we thought it was hight time we did something about the jungle that is our front and back yard.   We pruned so much over the past 2 weeks that we were able to fill 2 green waste bins worth of cuttings!  Our neighbor was kind enough to let us borrow theirs but we don't even think that the job's half done yet.  My wife's gotten so into it that she's bought a gardening book and is earnestly studying it to see what we can do with our own patch.

This weekend is a long weekend in South Australia with a holiday this Monday but I think it only means more gardening for us.  No pictures yet, at least, not until we think it's presentable...