Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Fire, A Bike and A Key

I'm continuing to experience uniquely Australian practices. Last week we started a fire to burn up all the garden waste like dried up tree branches and leaves. We also took this opportunity to burn up all the wood that was used to box up our furniture which arrived from Thailand. Neither I or the kids have seen anyone use fire as a means to get rid of garden waste, so it was a fun experience as well.

Since summer has pretty much arrived, a fire ban started on Monday. Good thing Grandma noticed the reminder posted at the local supermarket, so last Sunday Pop and Hubby gathered up all the "burnable" stuff, lit the fire and we watched it burn baby burn.
Of course there are some basic "laws" you have to follow when you start a fire in your yard. I'm not sure what they are, but definitely there are set months of the year for it and it cannot exceed a certain size. The fire we had going was about 2 meters in diameter I think. And it sure was hot! I was visualizing one of those tv style rituals wherein people are dancing around the fire naked and chanting funny words. Too bad it was too cold to dance around naked and no one had enough alcohol in their systems to do something so crazy. At least I was able to take a few good shots of the fire though.
Nachos has also grown accustomed to the quad bike now. A few posts previously, you see her crying while riding with Pop on the bike. But this time she laughs with glee when Hubby takes her on it while going really fast. Images of Britney Spears holding her son on her lap while driving flashes through my head. How different is what Hubby is doing compared to what she did??? But Nachos hates it when she rides with me because I drive like a granny on it and its no fun.
So anyways, all this unlimited fun in Grandma and Pop's backyard are now numbered. We're scheduled to get the keys to our new house on Nov. 30! And if all goes well and as scheduled, we should be moving in on Dec. 10!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Fun In Doors and Out

So as the weeks go past in our life here in Gisborne, I've had to look for more ways to entertain the kids. Last week while Hubby and Pop were in the US on a week long tour, Grandma and I took the kids to Collingwood Children's Farm. I got the opportunity to drive somewhat into the city and the kids had alot of fun getting to know some farm animals.

They had chickens and peacocks roaming the farm freely. There were shelves of guinea pigs for the kids to choose from and pet. They had chickens nesting and signs requesting you to bring the eggs to reception if you find one.

Here's Boy Wonder getting cozy with a guinea pig. He sat there for awhile just petting it. It was good how the giant rat just sat there on his lap and let him pet it.

After we looked at all the animals, we sat down for a simple lunch. It was funny how the chickens and peacocks knew exactly when your food has arrived because they casually walk right up next to your table. We sat at a piece of log table, so it was quite close to the ground. I've had dogs and seagulls try to snatch the food out of my plate before, but to have a peacock snatch bits of Nachos' sausage roll was definitely a unique experience.

Here's the resident cow for everyone to have a hand at milking.

Here's Boy Wonder getting a very warm reception from the goats.

Here's Grandma trying to make Nachos understand you don't throw the food on the ground, that she had to cup it in her hand.

On the weekend I took the kids to a friend's place to stay overnight. We went to an indoor play gym called Kid's Space. It was great! The slides were so high even I was abit scared to go down it. But Boy Wonder and Nachos had no fear at all. What I would give to have such blissful ignorance again and really enjoy the simple pleasures of life.

Boy Wonder went down this slide countless times. Meels and I took turns taking Nachos down the slide. We left her to go down it by herself once and she ended up on her tummy and stopped midway. There were a few tube slides which were pretty steep! I had to use my feet as breaks to slow our decent. I even got elbow burns coming down a few of the slides. Its amazing how most kids have no fear at this age. I saw countless of them take a flying leap off the airbag type slides and also roll off them. I was actually scared to go back a few tube slides after I knew just how steep they were!

Too bad the food was really mediocre. We couldn't finish the mystery meat nuggets. But the free drinks for the adults were a good deal. You pay A$3 for one adult entrance but get a free drinks ticket with it. I got a hot chocolate which cost A$3.50 so I was happy about that. We stayed there for about 2 hours and thank goodness it was Nachos' nap time, so we had to leave. I don't think us adults would have lasted much longer in there.

Here's Nachos getting cozy with her Uncle Andrew... wanna smell my feet?

But one of the highlights of the week for me was catching up with my old highschool friends Lorj and Tanya. I met up with Tanya a few weeks ago. I had not seen her since we graduated from highschool, which was in 1990! Although we were never close back then, just seeing each other after all these years made us feel like long lost friends. Lorjie was in Melbourne for a vacation and stayed with Tanya. I had not seen Lorjie since my wedding in January 2003. It was great seeing both of them.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Save Water!

One of the biggest lifestyle changes since moving to Australia has been the way we use water in our day to day lives. While living in HK, we never thought about conserving water. We always felt the sting of the electricity bill, but the water bill was always an insignificant amount compared to anything else. The only worry we ever had about the water in HK was whether it was safe enough to drink. Here in Australia, it just might be whether there's going to be enough to drink one day.

Parts of Australia has had the lowest amount of rainfall recorded since 1900. And rainfall just this past October has been lower than October of last year. With all these rain shortages, for the first time in my life I finally see just how much we relay on rain for our drinking water.

Grandma has a rainfall gauge in the backyard to measure the rainfall whenever it rains. They've got huge water tanks as well to catch as much rain water as they can. Alot of the water we use around the house, especially for watering the plants is from the water tanks. They also have a bucket in the shower to catch the cold water that comes out while waiting for the hot water. We do the same thing at the kitchen sink when waiting for the hot water to come out before doing the dishes. We've had to install a water tank next to our house too when going over the plans. It seems like no houses are built without a water tank next to it to catch the rain. And at the moment we're still figuring out where to get the water to fill up our pool when it gets done.

In the pink chart above, you see the water restriction procedures everyone has to follow in terms of water usage. You can't just water your plants whenever you feel like it, no one is allowed to wash their cars with a hose and you can forget about filling up a small pool in your backyard if its not from your rainwater tank. People actually get reported to the "authorities" if their neighbors see them watering their plants when its not their alloted schedule and especially if you wash your car with your hose. I think they have something like the water police who'll then come knocking at your door and checking your water meter to see if you've been using more than the alloted amount you can use depending on the number of people you've registered living in our home.

So with all these water restrictions, I've had to change the way I bathe the kids. Instead of leaving the tap on to wash, I make sure I use exactly how much I need and never leave the water running without reason. And even though I hate stepping out of the hot shower, I now turn the water off the moment I'm done. No more luxuriating under the hot pouring water like I used to do during cold months in HK. And when I tell Boy Wonder not to waste water because it hasn't been raining, its actually true!

Although it sucks that there's all this drought going on, at least Boy Wonder is learning the importance of conservation. Whenever he washes his hands now he tells me to make sure I turn the tap off because it hasn't been raining. And even though Nachos hates it, I only give her one fill of her watering can when she wants to do some gardening. And the whole water conservation thing just makes you more aware of the other resources we usually take for granted. So although there is this abundance of space now for the kids to run around in, being water conscious keeps us grounded and remind us not to take anything for granted.