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[Tuesday, 2014-05-20, 18:07]
We have new neighbours

Over the weekend just gone I stuck a fake owl on the roof to discourage pigeons landing there as their poo is making a mess on the tiles and in the gutter.

We also got new neighbours. Last week we bid farewell to Ian and Dierdre who have been wonderful neighbours for the last 8 years or so. Over the weekend there was a move-yourself truck and presumably people unloading but as we were away from home for a bit we didn't actually see the new neighbours. We still haven't seen them, I'll have to go round and say hello.

Briony's worried about the new neighbours because she really hates noise and we were fortunate that Ian and Dierdre really were very quiet people. We'll have to see what happens!!

Oh, one more thing. I mentioned last entry that I had a colleague from work pop around for some child minding. This was Shirani, a female colleague. The other day while I was at work Briony was talking with Majandra who, during the conversation, referred to Shirani as "that girl of Dad's". LOL.

Briony also thinks I'm off to see "that girl of Dad's" because I randomly went for a walk late the other night. The actual explanation is that it was cool and misty and I thought some photos at Blackwood might be nice!! Check out below and you'll see!!

We recently went for a bike ride to McLaren Vale with the girls in the trailer. This was Briony's first ride in a while, there was a fair bit of grizzling coming from her mouth on the way home! There was also some grizzling coming from the girls, mainly because Majandra was taking up more than her share of space in the trailer and they were fighting and carrying on. At least they were strapped in so I could just ignore them!

Lastly, we took a drive to Andreas' and Paulina's place to see their new baby Massimo. We'd ben meaning to catch up with them for a while but things kept coming up. I went there with the girls and left Briony at home to rest as she wasn't feeling well. We had a nice time there and it was good to catch up.

[Tuesday, 2014-05-13, 17:57]
Majandra can't keep a secret

I have a long history of presents for Briony being ruined (and then destroying the festive day because Briony doesn't understand that sometimes it's appropriate to keep quiet as to avoid offence to others!

Probably the first incident was many years ago I bought Briony a drum set, and her dad and I picked it up from town. Everything was fine, but one day he came to our place and he'd accidently left one of the cymbals in his car. Briony saw it, and Christmas was ruined (plus Ted and I were in trouble).

There have also been incidents where I have 'hidden' presents in unlikely places, but by some sheer coincidence Briony has gone looking in that place where she probably hasn't looked for years, and the presents have been seen.

This year I wasn't in trouble thankfully, but I did learn that Majandra can't be trusted to keep a secret. I didn't necessarily expect she could as she's just shy of 4 years old, but she did promise! What happened is the girls had made some paint footprints at day care and this was sent home to us for Mother's Day. Majandra hid it under her bed at my suggestion along with the card that I'd bought. We'd discussed that Mother's Day is on Sunday and don't tell mum and keep it a secret etc.

The next morning when Majandra got up she went under her bed to get the present out. I managed to convince her not to. Then I left for work, and from what Briony told me all the presents and cards were exposed within minutes of me leaving the house. At least Briony didn't get angry this time!

She did get angry later in the day though. I'd arranged for a colleague from work to come round and look after the girls so Briony and I could go to the movies. All went fine, until Briony worked out that I was taking her to see Bad Neighbours which had lots of crude jokes and swearing and one liners about penises and stuff. Apparently Briony finds this offensive, and she sat through the whole movie with a grouchy face on. Maybe I'll take her to Spider Man next weekend to make up for it!

I haven't said much about Aliana this entry - well she's doing great and she's trying to add more words to her vocabulary. I mentioned in an earlier post that she can say MUM, DAD, HAT and DUCK. Now she's trying to say CLOCK and EYE, and she also says BEE. She's getting better with the books, and is learning to point at the pictures that match the word we say. Also one of the funny things she does is a movement with her hand which is copying us. It's supposed to be pointing to eyes and then pointing at a person in the "I'm watching you" movement, but she just moves her hand towards her head and then away, back and forth. Cute all the same :)

Here's a couple of random photos, as what would a blog entry be without some pictures?

[Friday, 2014-05-09, 17:59]
Are we supposed to not go camping?

In my last blog entry I wrote about our previous camping trip being destroyed by illness and ants and ferals. I had hoped the next trip wuld be better, but it seems the Gods were definitely not smiling upon us.

As per normal I'd spent some time making sure we had everything in the trailer, then packing all the food and clothes and towels. Briony had even been to the supermarket specially to get some things plus we had hot cross buns and lamingtons from the latest Kytons Bakery fundraiser ready for a nice Easter trip away. My parents were also supposed to be coming with us.

And we even left home on time for a change!!

On any trip like this, first stop is On The Run to get a coffee for me, hot chocolate for Briony and a snack for the girls. I called my parents (who are always running late) to find out if they'd left yet. Much to my surprise they were already half-way there but stopped on the side of the road as their muffler had fallen off and had to be tied back on with rope. We finished the call and started on our way with a chuckle about mum and dad's car.

I firmly believe that what goes around comes around, so perhaps this was karma just getting us back from laughing about my parents car. We got about 4 minutes down the road to Coromandel Valley and there was a bang followed by smoke coming from the trailer wheel. I could see in the mirror that the wheel was at a funny angle and the tyre was rubbing against the wheel arch. We weren't really in the best spot to pull over but we had to stop before the tyre shredded itself. Upon investigation it was clear that our camping trip was over.

Under the trailer there is a bracket where the suspension carrier is welded to the chassis. This weld on the driver's side had snapped meaning the suspension was flapping around and the wheel was all loose out of alignment. Of course this put extra pressure on the other side, which then also snapped the weld and the wheels were just all over the place. Basically the trailer and the wheels were no longer connected to each other.

We got a tow truck to take the trailer home and it turned out that our neighbour was out front with a few other guys. They helped us get the trailer off the tow truck (remember the tyres were rubbing on the wheel arch so it didn't want to roll by itself). The guys then also gave a hand to try to get the wheels back into position. It was all a little spur of the moment and without proper preparation, so I suppose it's no surprise that Ian our neighbour caught his hand and took a chunk of skin out, requiring stitches and killing their idea of a motorbike ride the next day :(

I'm pleased to say last week we had the trailer towed to Brooks Trailers at Morphett Vale, who fixed the problem quickly and it only cost $150 plus $100 to Southside Towing to get the trailer there. 5 stars to both businesses for top service.

Since the camping trip was over, so we decided to pitch the tent in the back garden. We set this up and the girls had a play. Majandra and I spent the next three nights sleeping in the tent and it was lovely - fresh air, sounds of wind and birds in the morning, just great. Of course I would have preferred to be away, but this was the best we could manage give the circumstances.

The fact that it was Easter also helped take our mind off things, as we could still play easter egg hunts around the house and the back garden. It was good to see Aliana joining in the fun, although we had to be quick and sneaky so Majandra didn't steal Aliana's eggs.

[Thursday, 2014-04-17, 08:33]
Been a lot happening

In my last entry I confessed my sins about data backups on my server and I also described my search for a Network storage (NAS) device. I decided on the QNAP TS-470 which is a new model for 2014. It's very similar to the 'everyone's favourite' TS-469L upgraded for 2014 with a new operating system and more CPU power. I now have a 4-bay NAS populated with 4 x 2TB Western Digital 'Red' drives. Thus far I'm quite impressed with its functionality. The interface is nice, it was easy to set up, and file transfers between my iMac and the NAS are a speedy 61MB/sec. I don't mean 61Mbps, I mean 61MB/sec. That's 10x the speed of my old NAS, and it means I can now transfer multiple gigabytes around my network without having go for a coffee break.

Queensland Trip

In less geeky activities, we took a holiday to the north of Queensland last month. It was really nice to get away for 10 nights, and the girls mostly behaved themselves. We had a fairly uneventful and well-behaved flight into Cairns and as we got off the plane Briony said that we need to remember to pick up the pram from the oversize baggage desk (our last holiday to Fiji we forgot the pram). We picked up our hire Camry, drove out the gate and realised we'd forgotten the pram. After picking it up, we drove north for about an hour to the Rendezvous Reef Resort, only a few minutes drive from the centre of Port Douglas where there are shops and restaurants. The resort wasn't quite as flash as those 5 star Fiji Resorts but still a very nice location and the girls had a great time in the pool - over and over again. My only complaint about the Resort was that the air conditioning in our room was next to useless (it made more noise than air), everything else was fine.

From our base at Port Douglas we did a boat trip to Low Island which was intersting as it was quite windy which made for quite a choppy boat ride. We probably would not have given it a second thought if the crew hadn't said anything, but they started the trip with a warning about sea-sickness and handing out ginger tablets. Of course that meant everyon had sea-sickness on their mind. We got to the island safely and without vomiting, Briony went for a bit of a snorkel and I attempted to get he girl into wet suits which just resulted in crying so I gave up. The trip back was also fairly choppy and I got up enough courage to walk to the front of the boat which was going up and over the waves. I was surprised at how much up and down there was. However once up the front I observed it was more violent in the sense of splashing but there was less "rocking" and therefore less sick feeling.

From Port Douglas we did some other day trips, including a drive to Mossman Gorge for a rainforest walk. We spent some time at the playground and of course went to a crocodile park. We ate twice at a mexican restaurant on the main street of Port Douglas where the food was fresh, tasty and the 'hot' meatball dish actually was hot and spicy.

We also of course spent many hours in the pool, and Majandra became friends with a two children of Irish descent.

When the 5 nights was up, we drove south to Cairns. Rather then the highway route we went up the hills and across the tablelands. The trip up the hills was via a wide but steep and twisty road which was a pleasure to drive. We stopped along the way at a Mango Winery and also an awesome place in Mareeba called Coffee Works where they sell all sorts of things that are bad for you but taste amazing. They do a lot with coffee of course, I chose to buy a bottle of coffee liqueur which is fantastic. After the tablelands drive, the road decends and twists down the hills. I guess you could actually call it mountains, it's pretty high up. Anyway the road down was a great drive, pity we were stuck behind an insane truck half the way. I would have loved to have been in the Subaru which of course sticks to the road like glue, although the hire Camry handled the drive better than I'd expected.

At Cairns we stayed at the Coconut Holiday Resort which is part of the Big 4 group, known nationally for caravan parks. The Coconut Resort is huge, has really nice modern cabins and lovely green grassy sites for those in tents and caravans. It has a great pool, big playground and a really cool water park which is basically a playground with water sprays and fountains everywhere where all the kids (and adult kids!) run around in bathers and get soaked. The whole park is also really clean. And the air conditioner worked really well unlike the previous accomodation.

From our Cairns base we did some trips into Cairns city centre, a drive to Babinda to see the boulders but we saw nothing as it was belting with rain, we spent some days just hanging around (mainly in the pool) and going out to the pool in town and Muddys Playground.

Of course the best bit was the Kuranda Scenic Railway. This is a railway line dating way back and was built to connect the coast with the tablelands. I'm a bit of a sucker for this type of thing, and it's amazing to see how and where the railway is built. It goes from the coast, then smack into the mountains. One thought that went through my mind was, "who in their right mind would build a railway up these mountains?". But alas, reading a book on the history of the line gave some insight that while it was a difficult project, the chosen route was actually one of the more sensible of all options presented.

The train is great, slowly winding its way up the hill through 90 bends and 15 tunnels. It takes about 90 minutes to get to the top. At the top is Kuranda town, which is lovely but as we expected it's very touristy. We went to the butterfly house which the girls loved, then afterwards grabbed a quick snack, wandered around and then it was time to head back - just in time too, as Aliana was tired and starting to grizzle. The trip back to Cairns was via the Skyrail cableway, with two stops/stations along the way where there were some interesting things to see. Certainly the Barron Falls down Mossman Gorge are an impressive sight, and it turns out the viewing platform near the cableway is directly across the gorge from the Barron Falls Railway Station - basically same height, just the other side of the waterfall and gorge.

All in all we had a great time away. Everyone mostly behaved, nobody got lost, and it was just nice to be away from it all.

In other news, I've moved office! The company I work for is/was Adam Internet, which got bought by iiNet in 2013. I'm part of the business team, which is being merged and rebranded into iiNet Business. So I have a new desk, a new business card, a new office and a new boss. It's nice to have a similar product set but now with national coverage, so I can better help my customers.

We looked at a house recently too - and we almost got it. We saw 433 Ironbank Road come up for sale online, and it's one of the few houses out that way that has 5 bedrooms (4 + study), big land, big shed, and isn't too old and crusty. We put in a decent offer but it appears we were out-bid this time around. Perhaps we'll be luckier on the next one!

Majandra and Aliana

The two girls are doing really well at the moment. The most significant thing is with Aliana. For a while we were a little concerned about her as she seemed to rarely smile, often grizzle and cry, and just generally not interact with us. Then she learned to take her first steps, and it's like an overnight change. She still has her grizzle moments like any young child, but now she's happier, smiling more, interacting more, trying to talk, she eats her food better, plays better, and now even the two girls play with each other. Oh and Aliana had her first babycino at Bean Bar - we go there regularly of course but only recently have I been confident that Aliana would get at least a litle bit in her mouth as opposed to all over herself.

Majandra is still the same - bright and playful and funny, but OMG she's persistent and it's hard to get a moment's peace with her around. She's recently started asking for her light to be left on at night, this happened seemingly for no reason, but now she wants it on every night. It's just a touch lamp she wants on and at least we've negotiated down to having it on the lowest brightness, on the basis that we explained the brighter settings waste too much power.

With Aliana's attempts at speech, she has four words under control, being HAT, DAD, MUM and DUCK. She says LUUU which we think is LUCY (our dog), as Aliana seems to say this when looking at Lucy's ball. But it could just aswell be her trying to say ball.

Today is the last day at work before the Easter long weekend. Tomorrow we are supposed to be going to Clayton Bay for 3 nights camping. I'm still confident we'll go, but Aliana has been snotty and crying plus also Majandra vomited last night. I'm hoping the two girls are OK so we can still go away. If you look at the first blog entry of 2014 you'll see our most recent camping trip was destroyed by illness and ants and loud ferals, so here's hoping this trip will be problem-free!

[Wednesday, 2014-02-19 18:50]
And now she's off!

I wrote in my last entry that Aliana can stumble a few shaky steps. Well, now she can walk and it's about time too!

Briony and I went out to a Fringe show last Saturday and my parents came to look after the girls. When we got home they said "you didn't tell us that Aliana could walk!" to which of we replied that she can't walk. Then they showed us a video of Aliana getting up, walking, picking up a plastic chair and walking whilst carrying the chair!

Now she has the hang of it, she is walking all over the place.

Not much more to report this week, more next time!

[Friday, 2014-02-07 17:58]
And she's up!

Breaking news this week is that Aliana can walk! Well maybe that's getting a bit excited. It's probably more accurate to say that Aliana can occasionally get the courage to take 2 wobbly steps by herself. Generally though she prefers to collapse to the ground and crawl the short distance then stand up again.

Both girls are covered in mosquito bites as its recently been quite hot and doors get left open. I think the recent heat wave is a 2nd biggest on record, it was 4 or 5 days in a row over 40C, and one day was 43.9C. It's a lazy 34C today, quite nice actually.

Majandra's behaviour is still leaving a bit to be desire. It's hard to know how to handle the attitude. I don't want her to hate me, but at the same time I don't want to let her get away with it as she'll end up growing up a little brat.

Last week I yelled at her - not even that bad but probably the loudest I've yelled. It made her do a wee on the floor and almost vomit from crying. Suffice to say I felt awful but she was being really silly and just not cooperating with Briony or myself.

But we do still have fun times, like going to the playground, Camilla's pool party for Australia Day, and going to Glenelg for dinner and ice-cream.

I've got something to confess. It's an "I told you so" moment.

I do a little bit of computer work on the side, and I'm always talking about doing backups and helping people do theirs. I run a mail server at home, and it served me well for three and a half years. Until the hard disk failed, that is. I'd been meaning to do a backup for a long time, but that day never happened so when the drive died there was no recovery possible.

It was by chance that I had mine and Briony's mail set up on my computer at work, and the software had cached some of the messages. So I managed to get some back. There were lots of tears though, as Briony had lots of items in her email that were important. Also I lost all mail for Briony's sister and her partner. Talk about embarrassing, and me failing to practice what I preach.

So I've installed a new drive, and this time I intend to back up every now and then to avoid future embarrassment!

Remember, do as I say, not as I do.

I guess one good consequence of the server failure is that it's got me thinking about the life expectancy of hard drives. My current NAS (Network storage device) is almost full, plus it and it's disks are almost 4 years old. So I'm on a mission to replace it before any problems occur. If I lost my photos I'd die.

So I'm doing some research for a new network storage device, hopefully one that will last the best part of a decade although I fully expect to have to replace the disks half way through. I'm looking at the QNAP TS470 which is a 4-bay device new for 2014. It's expensive but very powerful and well featured. Years ago I'd never have considered spending $2000 on storage however with all my photos etc on there, can I really afford to do it on the cheap?

My research has uncovered that NAS devices have come a long way, and now come standard with functions such as media server, sync to mobile, web based file access and more. I'm actually quite excited about the new device, and I have some grand plans for setting it up.

[Thursday, 2014-01-21 17:47]
A nice Christmas, terrible camping trip and a miserable start to the New Year

It's nice to be sitting here feeling good. Certainly better than the last week anyway!

We had a nice lead-up to Christmas. We went to see the brewery lights, Kerrie came over for a few days, we had some fun and then of course presents on Christmas morning.

Christmas Day afternoon was spent at my brother Oowan's place, where he and his partner Fiona hosted the Christmas Dinner. It was a fairly relaxed afternoon, we enjoyed some cider, some food, some company and some conversation. Oowan and Fiona were in their last days in the house as they are moving to Melbourne.

The girls had a good time, particularly Majandra who loves Oowan and Fiona to bits. Aliana had a good time too, however she's of course not quite old enough to run around like a crazy thing. They played wit the cat, went in the litle pool and ate lots of food. We called it a day at what ended up being around 7pm, got home and put the girls to bed. We were heading camping the next morning.

The camping trip ended up being quite a saga. We got to Cobdogla without any difficulty and set up camp. But then around 7pm when night was approaching Briony pointed out an ants near under the trailer. They were angry ants of the giant variety which of course provoked Briony's ant phobia, plus of course we didn't really like the possibility of them coming into the tent at night. We ended up going to reception and booking a cabin for the night. $90 down.

After collecting our bags, food and sleeping gear from the tent it was nice to get to bed. We were awoken in the small hours of the morning by Majandra vomiting. She did this several times, and didn't want breakfast in the morning.

We packed up our stuff and went back to the camper trailer. While Briony looked after the girls and then took them for a shower, I packed everything up, moved the trailer about 30m and set everything up again. It was really hot, and when Majandra got back she just lay down on a mattress in her nappy pants and went to sleep. She really wasn't well but we figured she was sleeping it off and would be OK in the morning.

That night several groups of people from the permanent sites had a party with lots of drinking and laughing. This went on until past 1am, then some of the teenage boys came back to their tent which was next to ours. They stuffed around and made noise until 3am. Naturally we had a pretty terrible sleep that night and we had cranky wife in the morning.

Majandra was no better after waking, and it was an even hotter day. We were just hanging around the hot tent, doing a while bunch of stuff all. Aliana was fidgety, Majandra was crook and we were hot. We decided it probably want going to get and better so we packed up the camper trailer and decided to head for home. On the way we called into the camping shop in Barmera and I bought a folding camp kitchen on special.

As luck would have it, Majandra was perfectly fine by the time we got home.

A couple of days later it was New Years, and we spent the day at Tusmore Park with Oowan & Fiona plus my parents. I wasn't feeling that well, probably had a touch of whatever Majandra had, so I had to take it easy on the food and drink. It was nice to spend a few hours with the family, as this was pretty much the last day before Oowan and Fiona took off for Melbourne.


Majandra is going fine but she's going through an attitude phase. Normally she is well behaved, it's really only bed time and getting dressed time that are hard. She messes around at bed time, won't do her teeth and just generally moves at snail's pace. This means late to sleep so she's tired in the morning and complains when it's time to get up.

Onto good things, Majandra is getting really good at riding her bike, she made it all the way from home to Blackwood the other day (1.5Km). She's learning how to use a computer and getting really good with the mouse. I might have to take the computer away soon as she will sit on it for hours if we let her!


Aliana is doing well and eating lots. The other day we referred to her as garbage guts which is only sometimes true. Some days she'll eat hardly anything but then when she gets hungry she really can scoff herself.

Aliana will be walking any day now. She is flying around the house with her walker or trolley and she's now learned how to steer. The weekend just gone she took a half step unassisted and we're confident she'll walk just fine once she gets the courage to give it a try.

Also I don't think I've written about Aliana's screaming. She has a really good set of lungs and she knows how to squeal at a deafening high pitch. She's started doing this when she wants something. She'll point at whatever she wants and just scream until age gets it. We think we'd better stop giving her what she wants else the screaming may never stop!

Here's a few random photos to finish off for this entry.

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