Monday, December 12, 2011

Inspiration: Helping Kids to Fly

I really like this excerpt from How to help your child fly through life by Andrew Martin:

" is a lot like flying (in the aeroplane sense).  Some people love it. Some people fear it. Some people are bored by it. Some people just ride it out neither bored nor enthused by it. Our aim as parents (and teachers) is to nurture children who love to fly.

To help kids fly and enjoy the ride, there is a need for a good pilot (i.e. good parents or caregivers and teachers) and a sound plane (i.e. a safe and supportive home and an effective class and school). Both pilot and plane need to function effectively to get the plane safely in the air and to safely land it on time and at the right destination (i.e. effectively guiding children into adulthood). There is often anticipated and unanticipated turbulence that needs to be weathered (just as there are tough times in life that must be endured). It is also important to have all of one's luggage arrive on time and in the right place (i.e. reaching adulthood with all the appropriate skills to function well in life).

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Kai's Birthday

We celebrated Kai's birthday on Wednesday last week, and then her party at the weekend.

We decided to have her party at home with lots of games and activities for the 12 girls.
It was a really wonderful morning and the girls were well behaved and they all played together nice. We kept them busy with musical hearts (instead of musical chairs), pass the parcel, decorating wand biscuits, making masks with glitter and other decorations, a treasure hunt, and a couple of other games.

To go with the 'pink' theme, Kai's cake (which she chose from a cake book) was a pink Cadillac. Phillip and I had great fun decorating it, and Kai really enjoyed the surprise of finding it in the kitchen when she woke up on the day of her party.
 I also had fun the day before the party makes lots of pink food, including these cute tea cups and strawberry tarts.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Moving Your House

That isn't a typo: I did actually mean to write about moving the house, not just moving house.
We all did a serious double-take the first time we drove up towards the Sunshine Coast and saw a whole lot of movable houses -- removal houses, as they are called -- on the side of the motorway that are for sale. Ok, I'd seen those programs on TV where they use big trucks and move houses to new locations, but I recently discovered that buying a house that's ready to move to your selected location is a regular way of house buying here. (Well, I don't actually know anyone who has done it, but I do know a builder who recently connected up a house for someone who bought one of these.)
A website for a company that is involved in this type of business states that house removal has been around in Australia since the early days of colonial history. At that time houses and buildings were transported by horse and dray.
According to this company houses are categorised according to the following: Queenslander and Colonial (Built prior to 1946) houses, Post War (Built between 1946 and 1960) and Semi Modern (Built from about 1960 onwards) houses.
Qld colonial removal house post war house relocation Semi Modern house relocation
    Queenslander / Colonial
Post War            
      Semi Modern 
One example of a house that is for sale is a three bedroom post-war house that costs between $60,000 and $100,000. Of course, there is small print, which states that the price includes the house and a provision allowance for delivery within 100kms and restumping 600mm out of ground based on a level site and standard soil conditions.I love this bit..."Extra costs will apply if the house is required to be cut into sections smaller than standard...or transport over water."

The advert states:

"Three Bedroom Post-War. This is a very solid and spacious post-war home with robes in each of the three good sized bedrooms. The kitchen is clean and tidy and in good original working order. The solid weatherboard construction home has plenty of character with great looking polished timber floors, and timber casement windows, and be sure to check out the huge living area. Plenty of room for all the family, and a timber porch provides a welcome entry. Just connect to services on your new site and move into or rent in no time at all. Inspections by appointment, so call to arrange yours now. Area (Approx): 144m2."
For someone who has an unwanted house on land, the relocation of the house is an alternative to demolition. The demolition is expensive and creates waste that needs to be removed. If you sell the house instead, you save on those costs, and can make money instead.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Ordering Coffee in Oz

Moving to Australia there were a whole lot of things that I thought would be different and that would take getting used to.
It didn't for a moment cross my mind that ordering coffee would be something that I'd have to learn my way around! Okay, so there were bigger things to think about, but for someone who enjoys coffee, knowing how to order a cup of coffee is pretty important too.
I have realised that I'm not the only one trying to figure this out as many of the coffee shops have brochures available that explain their coffee and other drinks.
The easy option when ordering is a cappuccino -- yes, a cappuccino is a cappuccino, even in Australia.
But if you're ordering anything else, there are some explanations needed. So here are a few (thanks to the brochure from Gloria Jean's Coffees):
Flat White (in other words, coffee with milk!): Espresso with steamed milk. Plain and simple.
Long Black (that is, coffee without milk!): Rich, intense espresso coffee lengthened with hot water. Bold, black coffee.
Short Black: Gloria Jean's Special Espresso Blend coaxed to yield the essence of fine coffee. Wonderfully intense & aromatic.

So those are the basics, but special coffees and other hot drinks are huge here, and Zarraffa's Coffee is one of the places where the menu is something of a minefield of choices. There are the drinks, then the strength, the flavours and the extras. And don't forget about the milk options (full-cream, skinny, soy or light soy).
So you could start off choosing something like caramelised cappuccino or white chocolate mocha. If you need a serious wake up call you could ask for a triple shot of coffee, and then you can add flavours such as caramel, hazelnut, irish cream, butterscotch and peppermint.
Then it's the extras which can include whipped cream, marshmallows, chocolate powder, chocolate or white chocolate flakes, chocolate or white chocolate fudge and caramel fudge.
Whew, sounds more like dessert than a cup of coffee!

Friday, June 10, 2011

My Superstar

We had a celebration dinner this evening and Slade got to chose the menu. He was the recipient today of a 'Well Done' award in the school assembly.
The certificate states that he received the award for:
"Oozing interest for every lesson. I love that you take so much time to always complete work to such a high standard. You are a great learner!"
Slade's teacher sent us an email earlier in the week to tell us that he'd be getting the award. This is what she said in her email:
"Slade is always so genuinely interested in everything that we do. He always approaches new concepts with a 'can do' attitude and he thinks so carefully about offering considered comments to our discussions. He truly is a delightful boy to have in our class and he is such an enthusiastic learner. What a superstar!"
Mom and Dad are very, very proud of you, Slade!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Crime and Police Killings

Having done research and writing on the issue of crime in South Africa, it has been really quite something to see the outpouring of emotion and support in response to the recent murder of a police officer in Queensland.
Senior Constable Damian Leeding died in hospital after being shot in the face when he responded to an armed robbery on the Gold Coast.
In South Africa the killing of police members is an all too often occurrence. An article on the website from just last month states that 32 police officers have been killed there since January. "Other statistics show that about 109 police officers were killed between 2008 and 2009 while 110 were killed between 2009 and 2010."
I remember doing an interview some years ago with the wife of a policeman who was killed when he tried to stop an armed robbery. She had some support from his colleagues, but her husband's death was regarded in many ways as just another statistic.
How different is the situation here in Queensland where the last police officer to be shot dead on the job was four years ago. There has been so much discussion on radio and television about the murder. On the day of the funeral I heard an interview with the police commissioner, whose voice was breaking while he was talking to the reporter. The funeral was held at the Gold Coast Convention Centre -- the only venue large enough to hold the number of people expected to attend -- and attended by about 4000 uniformed officers. Every unit within the police from all over Australia was represented at the funeral, and the support was even from further afield with representatives from the New Zealand Police, the FBI and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police also attending.
There was a funeral procession down the Gold Coast Highway, which included mounted police, a police band and a guard of honour.
And then there was the response from members of the public. A fish and chip shop owner closed her restaurant for the day to attend the funeral and other people took a day off work to attend the funeral to show their support for the police. There was also a funeral service held for police members and members of the public in a few other cities around Queensland.
The local mayor announced that a park will be renamed in the policeman's honour or a memorial built in his memory as a "constant reminder of his heroism and also, of the courage displayed by all our police officers on a daily basis as they go about their tasks and responsibilities". The police union established a remembrance fund that had raised more than $120,000 within a week.
Incidentally, the armed robbery that Damian Leeding was responding to was one of a spate that's occurred on the Gold Coast recently. And the police have established a special task force to address the violent crime. I've tended to think that an "armed robbery" by definition involved a firearm (they generally seemed to in South Africa), but here the robbers are quite regularly armed with items such as knives, syringes and screwdrivers. In fact, the police mentioned in one interview that about 20% of the armed robberies involve firearms.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Singing Star

Phillip and I were very proud to watch Kai performing on stage during the school assembly this morning. She was with the Year 1 choir called Melodic Minors. They sang the National Anthem (I must say it's still somewhat strange for me to listen to that, and even more so watch my daughter sing it on stage), and also a song called Gary Galah. 
I'm rather glad that she learned this song at school, and shared it with us as I have now learned the correct pronunciation of galah. Having thought it was the same as gala, I now know that it's ga-lah with the emphasis on the lah!
The galah or rose-breasted cockatoo is commonly see throughout Australia.

I found this info and photograph on a website dedicated to galahs!  
Galahs are one of the few native birds that have thrived since white settlement of Australia, as they are particularly fond of agricultural crops and are often found in massive flocks in these rural areas (unfortunately thus deemed as a pest by many farmers).
There is no mistaking the Galah in flight. It’s pink and grey colour and unmistakable deep wingbeats, combined with acrobatic erratic displays and familiar chirps and harsh screeches make it a joy to watch in the air.
Galahs enjoy feeding on the ground and will often be found on lawns and in parks searching for grass seeds.
These birds are particularly fond of the rain, and can often be seen clowning about on power lines during a downpour. It is not uncommon to see them hanging upside down or doing ’360s’ on the power lines!