Diary of a geek

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Andrew Pollock


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Thursday, 31 July 2014

Day 183: Scootering, home tennis lesson, laksa

Today was a really nice day, another one that wasn't too jam packed, but was continuously busy.

After a lovely yoga class this morning, I drove to Sarah's place to pick up Zoe.

I needed to pick up some more fruit from the Hawthorne Garage, so after we got back home, I walked and Zoe scootered there. She wanted to keep scootering afterwards, so we went the long way home, going around the block.

There was some sort of excavation going on at a house around the corner from the Garage, and they'd broken the water pipe, which was making for a bit of a spectacular geyser. That made for something interesting to look at on the way home.

Zoe wanted to stop off at Crackerjack Toys on the way back. We managed to escape without buying anything, but that wasn't without trying.

After that, we had a "tennis lesson" in the garage. It was fun. We alternated between role playing teacher and student, and rehashed a few things from the previous real tennis class.

I thought it'd be a good idea to show her what "real" tennis looked like, so after we'd finished downstairs, we came back upstairs and watched some random Wimbledon and Australian Open footage on YouTube. She seemed to enjoy it. I'm really enjoying explaining new sports to her.

After that, Zoe wanted to watch an episode of the Muppets on YouTube, so we watched that, and then it was about time to start heading into the Valley for lunch.

I've managed to make it onto the invite list for an irregular laksa lunch of a bunch of current and former employees of WebCentral (because one of my ex-co-workers was from WebCentral), and there was a lunch today. I've taken Zoe before and she enjoyed herself, so I thought I'd try it again today.

We walked to the CityCat, and managed to make it just in time to walk onto a ferry as it arrived, and then took the CityGlider bus to Chinatown. We had a bit of time to kill, which Zoe solved by making a toilet stop, and then we went to Super Bowl.

Zoe had her wonton noodle soup again, and also tried the salt and pepper squid. She was really well behaved again while the rest of us talked about stuff of no interest to her. She's such a good kid.

After lunch, we browsed the dollar stores, and Zoe saw a bubble tea place and wanted to try a bubble tea again, so we shared a bubble tea.

We ended up taking the cross-river ferry to Bulimba instead of the CityCat, because it came first. There was a lady with a 3 year old in a stroller that Zoe struck up a conversation with. It turned out they'd just moved up to Teneriffe from Sydney three weeks previously. The little girl also went to Hampton Swim School for swim lessons, and they were on their way to Morningside State School for a class that afternoon. I got talking with her mother, and we ended up exchanging details for a future play date.

By the time we got home, we had half an hour to kill until TV time, which Zoe spent jumping on my bed and getting tickled, and then we watched some TV. For some reason the TV wasn't on ABC2, but on the Commonwealth Games coverage, so we watched some women's javelin, and some women's 200M heats. It was good to be able to explain some more sports to Zoe, and also for her to see some women's events. She was happy watching the Games coverage for almost half an hour before asking for some kid's stuff.

After that, Anshu arrived, and then Sarah arrived not much later to pick up Zoe.

[05:08] [life] [permalink]

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Day 182: Errands, movie, bike ride and swim class

Zoe woke up at around midnight and ended up in bed with me. I think I'll be spending the weekend doing some retraining.

I had noticed that Tinkerbell and the Pirate Fairy was still showing at the Hawthorne Cineplex, so I thought I'd take Zoe today. She ended up doing a poor job listening this morning when we were trying to get going, so I told her we'd go see it tomorrow as a consequence.

We headed out to exchange her tennis racquet for a larger one, and picked up a few other bits and pieces while we were out. I got a witches hat from Bunnings, and now she's very excited about having a tennis lesson at home.

We dropped by the movie theatre to see what time the movie would be showing tomorrow, because they haven't published the times for the next week yet, and the time didn't really work for what I wanted to do tomorrow, so we ended up watching the movie today anyway.

The movie was pretty good. It's nice to see Disney allowing John Lasseter to have creative input into non-Pixar films. I noticed his name in the trailers for Frozen as well.

After that, we dropped into Ooniverse next door, and ended up having lunch there. I struck up a conversation with Nicky Noo. I can see an opportunity to potentially keep my recently acquired barista skills vaguely sharp by doing some freebie barista work there in my copious amounts of spare time.

We walked home after that, and to kill some time, we were going to do a bike tour of the local parks until it was time for Zoe's swim class. After pumping up the tyres and getting to Bulimba Memorial Park, that was about as far as we got before it was time to leave for swim class.

We biked over to the swim class, and I had a great time watching Zoe learning to roll and breathe. It's the last piece she needs to pick up before she can properly swim, and then it's just refinement. She didn't do too badly.

Megan arrived for her class, which was after Zoe's, so the girls got to briefly hang out, and Zoe wanted to stay for a bit to watch Megan swim.

After that, we biked home, and Sarah arrived a bit earlier than usual to pick up Zoe.

[03:32] [life] [permalink]

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Day 181: Kindergarten, startup stuff, tennis and haircuts

Zoe had a massive sleep last night. I had her in bed by 7:20pm. She woke up a little before 6am because she'd lost Cowie, and went back to sleep until 7:30am. I had planned to try biking to Kindergarten for the first time in ages, but we got to Kindergarten late enough as it was driving.

I pretty much spent the day studying for my real estate license. I selected finalists for the design contest I'm running on 99designs. If you'd like to vote, I'm running a poll.

I picked up Zoe from Kindergarten and walked her next door to her tennis lesson. She really didn't want to do it this afternoon, and it took some firm encouragement to get her to participate. I'm never sure where to draw the line, but based on the grinning and running around within seconds of her finally joining in, I think I made the right decision. I think the problem was she was too hot. It was quite a warm day today.

The plan after that had been to go back to Megan's house for a play date, but her little sister had come home from day care early, showing signs of conjunctivitis, so we instead went to the local coffee shop for a babyccino with Megan and her Dad. While we were there, I managed to snag an appointment for a haircut for me, and a fringe trim for Zoe, so we headed over there afterwards.

After our haircuts, it was pretty much time to start making dinner, so Zoe watched some TV, and I prepared dinner.

I managed to get Zoe to bed early. It'll be interesting to see if she has another massive sleep again.

[04:47] [life] [permalink]

Monday, 28 July 2014

Day 180: Kindergarten, recovery and an afternoon play date

I was away all weekend with Anshu, so I had to play weekend catch up when I got home this morning. After I'd unpacked the car and sorted out some lunch, I did the grocery shopping, and by the time I'd unpacked from that it was pretty much time to pick up Zoe and Megan from Kindergarten.

On the way home from Kindergarten, Zoe asked if they could go to the playground. I'd been intended to offer them the playground or a ferry ride, so this worked out nicely.

Zoe wanted to ride her scooter to the park, and Megan seemed happy to run alongside her, so this seemed like a win-win situation. There were a few other kids from Kindergarten at the playground as well.

The small world factor struck this afternoon. There was a mother at the playground that I'd seen at pick up time at Kindergarten, who I didn't recognise, so I struck up a conversation with her. It turns out she's the mother of a boy who was in Zoe's swim class last year. I'd previously spoken with her husband at swim school. They were from Melbourne, had had a stint up in Brisbane, returned to Melbourne, decided they liked Brisbane better, and just relocated back again. Their son, Miller, had gone to Zoe's Kindergarten last year as well, and his Dad had had good things to say about it Sarah at Zoe's swim class.

After the stint in the park, we came back home, and Zoe and Megan watched a bit of TV while I prepared dinner, and then Jason came to pick up Megan.

We had a nice dinner, and I got Zoe to bed a little bit early.

[03:27] [life] [permalink]

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Day 177: Bike riding practice, picnic

Friday was another loosely planned day. Zoe indicated that she'd like to practice riding her bike, and it was a nice day, so we made a picnic lunch of it.

We went to Minnippi again, and Zoe did pretty well. I used the gentle downhill part of the path this time to give Zoe a bit more momentum, and there were a few brief periods where I let go of the bike completely and she stayed upright. I definitely think she's getting better, and her confidence is improving. Hopefully a few more practices will have her riding on her own.

After she got tired of riding her bike, we checked out the aviation-themed play area. We had some fun alternating between being the "pilot" and the "control tower". We had our picnic lunch up in that part of the park.

Shortly after lunch, another little girl, Lilian, arrived with her mother, and Zoe befriended her, although she didn't want to play with her all that much. I struck up a bit of a conversation with her mother, and when they migrated over to the duck pond, we went as well, as we had some crusts to feed to the ducks.

There was a guy over there with a big loaf of bread, which he was feeding to the ducks unsuccessfully. When Zoe and Lilian arrived, he donated the remainder of the bread to them to feed to the ducks.

After that, we all went to the other play structure for a while.

When Lilian left, we headed back to Cannon Hill to get some more kitty litter and a tennis racquet. We also dropped into Bunnings for a coffee and babyccino. Bunnings has a bit of an indoor play area, so Zoe checked that out too.

It was getting on in the afternoon by this stage, so we headed home and pottered around for a little bit. Zoe watched some TV, Anshu arrived, and then Sarah arrived to pick up Zoe. It was a nice day.

[20:50] [life] [permalink]

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Day 176: Museum and swimming

Today was a pretty chill day, after yesterday's crazy busy one.

Zoe jumped into bed with at 5:40am, but snoozed again until about 6:30am. It was exciting to get up and watch the inverter showing an ever-increasing power production as the sun rose.

I let Zoe choose what she wanted to do, which is code for "I had nothing in particular planned". She chose the museum by bus this morning, so we were out the door by 9am and on a bus not long after.

The museum had never mailed out my new membership cards from a month ago, so I stopped by the tickets desk first to try and sort that out. They were very apologetic, and gave me two free tickets to Deep Oceans show. They're valid until October, so we'll go back and check that out another day.

Zoe mostly just wanted to go to the Science Centre, so after some morning tea, we headed over there. The place was almost totally empty, so we had free run, which was pretty cool. That took us through until lunch time.

I was trying to make the 12:34pm bus home, but we managed to miss it by maybe 20 metres, which was a bit of a bummer. The lady who did the indoor air quality testing was going to come back at some point after 1pm. Fortunately she didn't end up coming until closer to 2pm, so we were fine getting the 1:04pm bus instead.

After she'd been, we briefly dropped in on one of our neighbours on the way out to grab a few things for dinner from the Hawthorne Garage.

Zoe wanted to go to the pool, which was going to be a bit tight, but we made it out to Colmslie for a brief splash around in the pool before I had to get home to put dinner on.

I wanted to get out to a seminar about company boards at 5:30pm, and Sarah was coming around to babysit Zoe for me, so I wanted to get dinner on the table at 5 before I had to leave. That didn't work out quite to plan, so I had to leave with dinner about 15 minutes from being ready.

I managed to order a taxi and get it almost immediately, and it got me into the city within 15 minutes, which was pretty good. On the way home afterwards, I managed to hail a taxi within minutes of leaving the building, so overall, the transport piece worked really well.

The seminar itself was vaguely interesting. I'm curious about getting on a company board, as I think it could be a good use of my experience, and also a non-9-to-5 way of making some income. I'm not quite sure how to get that first board seat though, and exactly what to expect from a time commitment.

[05:18] [life] [permalink]

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Going solar

With electricity prices in Australia seeming to be only going up, and solar being surprisingly cheap, I decided it was a no-brainer to invest in a solar installation to reduce my ongoing electricity bills. It also paves the way for getting an electric car in the future. I'm also a greenie, so having some renewable energy happening gives me the warm and fuzzies.

So today I got solar installed. I've gone for a 2 kWh system, consisting of 8 250 watt Seraphim panels (I'm not entirely sure which model) and an Aurora UNO-2.0-I-OUTD inverter.

It was totally a case of decision fatigue when it came to shopping around. Everyone claims the particular panels they want to sell at the best. It's pretty much impossible to make a decent assessment of their claims. In the end, I went with the Seraphim panels because they scored well on the PHOTON tests. That said, I've had other solar companies tell me the PHOTON tests aren't indicative of Australian conditions. It's hard to know who to believe. In the end, I chose Seraphim because of the PHOTON test results, and they're also apparently one of the few panels that pass the Thresher test, which tests for durability.

The harder choice was the inverter. I'm told that yield varies wildly by inverter, and narrowed it down to Aurora or SunnyBoy. Jason's got a SunnyBoy, and the appeal with it was that it supported Bluetooth for data gathering, although I don't much care for the aesthetics of it. Then I learned that there was a WiFi card coming out soon for the Aurora inverter, and that struck me as better than Bluetooth, so I went with the Aurora inverter. I discovered at the eleventh hour that the model of Aurora inverter that was going to be supplied wasn't supported by the WiFi card, but was able to switch models to the one that was. I'm glad I did, because the newer model looks really nice on the wall.

The whole system was up at running just in time to catch the setting sun, so I'm looking forward to seeing it in action tomorrow.

Apparently the next step is Energex has to come out to replace my analog power meter with a digital one.

I'm grateful that I was able to get Body Corporate approval to use some of the roof. Being on the top floor helped make the installation more feasible too, I think.

[05:36] [tech] [permalink]

Day 175: Kindergarten, cleaning, swim class and a lot of general madness

Today was ridiculously busy.

I woke up pretty early, but ended up not getting out of bed until about 7:30am. While I was in the shower, the guy from Origin buzzed to get let in because he wanted to replace the building's hot water meters. Then I raced next door for my chiropractic adjustment.

I got back home, had breakfast, and started cleaning the house, which I mostly finished by 11am, then I biked over for my massage. While I was getting my massage, the solar installer tried calling me because they'd arrived. Fortunately they didn't have to wait too long.

I did a bit more cleaning for 45 minutes, raced out to Grill'D to grab some lunch and then over to Kindergarten to chair the PAG meeting.

After the meeting, I picked up Zoe and Megan, and we went home to see how the solar installers were going.

They were making a spectacular mess, and we didn't have a lot of time before we had to head out again for Zoe's swim class. We drove over to the pool, and discovered a few other kids from Zoe's Kindergarten were in the preceding classes. Zoe's swim school is running a 2 for 1 thing this term because of the cold weather, to try and keep kids enrolled. I figured twice as many swim classes could only help, so jumped at the chance.

Megan was happy to play around while we waited for Zoe to have her class, and then we went home again. The solar installers were just finishing up.

No sooner had they walked out the door and the woman I'd organised to do indoor air quality testing arrived. I'm wanting to rule out living on a busy road having any contribution to Zoe's suspected asthma.

I was making a new Thermomix recipe for dinner, and Laura was coming over for dinner after she picked up Megan's little sister from day care. Dinner turned out really well, but with all of the preceding madness, I didn't get it started until a bit later than I had hoped, and so it was on the table later than I'd have liked.

Once Laura left with her kids, I chucked Zoe in the shower and got her down to bed only about 20 minutes later than normal. She slept through the night last night for Sarah, so I'm hoping she'll sleep through the night again tonight.

[05:04] [life] [permalink]

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Day 174: Kindergarten, startup stuff, tennis

I picked up Zoe from Sarah this morning and dropped her at Kindergarten. Traffic seemed particularly bad this morning, or I'm just out of practice.

I spent the day powering through the last two parts of the registration block of my real estate licence training. I've got one more piece of assessment to do, and then it should be done. The rest is all dead-tree written stuff that I have to mail off to get marked.

Zoe's doing tennis this term as her extra-curricular activity, and it's on a Tuesday afternoon after Kindergarten at the tennis court next door.

I'm not sure what proportion of the class is continuing on from previous terms, and so how far behind the eight ball Zoe will be, but she seemed to do okay today, and she seemed to enjoy it. Megan's in the class too, and that didn't seem to result in too much cross-distraction.

After that, we came home and just pottered around for a bit and then Zoe watched some TV until Sarah came to pick her up.

[01:23] [debian] [permalink]

Monday, 21 July 2014

Day 173: Investigation for bug #749410 and fixing my VMs

I have a couple of virt-manager virtual machines for doing DHCP-related work. I have one for the DHCP server and one for the DHCP client, and I have a private network between the two so I can simulate DHCP requests without messing up anything else. It works nicely.

I got a bit carried away, and I use LVM to snapshots for the work I do, so that when I'm done I can throw away the virtual machine's disks and work with a new snapshot next time I want to do something.

I have a cron job, that on a good day, fires up the virtual machines using the master logical volumes and does a dist-upgrade on a weekly basis. It seems to have varying degrees of success though.

So I fired up my VMs to do some investigation of the problem for #749410 and discovered that they weren't booting, because the initramfs couldn't find the root filesystem.

Upon investigation, the problem seemed to be that the logical volumes weren't getting activated. I didn't get to the bottom of why, but a manual activation of the logical volumes allowed the instances to continue booting successfully, and after doing manual dist-upgrades and kernel upgrades, they booted cleanly again. I'm not sure if I got hit by a passing bug in unstable, or what the problem was. I did burn about 2.5 hours just fixing everything up though.

Then I realised that there'd been more activity on the bug since I'd last read it while I was on vacation, and half the investigation I needed to do wasn't necessary any more. Lesson learned.

I haven't got to the bottom of the bug yet, but I had a fun day anyway.

[20:25] [debian] [permalink]

Day 173: Kindergarten and some Debian work

Zoe is still waking up on the early side, thanks to the jet lag. I think she woke up around 5am and jumped into bed with me. At least it's nice and dark.

The drop off at Kindergarten went well. Zoe was happy to see Megan again, and wasn't particularly clingy or anything. I was able to get away relatively quickly.

I spent the day getting stuck into some Debian work, and it was good to be able to use the day for its intended purpose for a change.

Megan's Dad, Jason, has a job this week that makes picking her up from Kindergarten impossible, and her parents asked me if I could pick her up on Monday and Wednesday. Zoe was very excited to have Megan come back for a play date, so I picked up both girls and brought them back home.

It was a pretty easy afternoon really. I let the girls just self-direct themselves, and they did a good job of playing on their own with minimal supervision from me. Megan had made a "portable zoo" at Kindergarten for her stuffed panda. It basically involved a shoe box and a couple of pieces of foam for bars. Her and Zoe spent a chunk of time blinging it up with Zoe's craft supplies.

Megan's Mum, Laura, picked up Megan not too long before Sarah did to pick up Zoe. Anshu arrived in the middle as well.

The jet lag is still seriously kicking my butt in the evenings. I'm hoping it will pass by tomorrow.

[20:16] [life] [permalink]

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Day 170: The flight back

I have no idea if I'm getting my day numbers right any more with all the crossings of the international date line, but we'll call Friday day 170 and be done with it.

The flight back went pretty well. Zoe had a good time watching some movies, and also slept for a reasonable chunk of the flight. Zoe's cold had progressed into her typical runny nose/nasty cough combination, but neither was particularly bad. She did cough a bit in her sleep, but it didn't seem to stop her sleeping, and she was pretty happy for the duration of the flight. She was definitely impatient to land, because she knew she'd be seeing her mother.

We must have been the first flight into Brisbane on Friday morning, so we breezed through passport control quickly, and the car seat helpfully came out on the same carousel as the suitcases, so we were able to collect everything and exit quarantine relatively quickly.

Sarah met us outside, and dropped me home, and took the day off to spend with Zoe. I used the day to unpack and run a few errands.

I was super impressed with how well Zoe traveled overall. She's such a good little traveler. She's the perfect age/height for her Trunki now, and that made traversing airports at close to normal walking pace very doable. I'm also happy with how I handled solo-parent international travel. I've done a flight to Townsville with Zoe before, and a flight to Melbourne with Zoe and Anshu, but long-haul international for nearly 3 weeks is a totally different ball game, and aside from me needing to learn to pack a bit better when leaving a location (checklists, checklists, checklists!) everything went really well. The only thing I forgot to pack was my own swimwear, and that was easily fixed.

[20:54] [life] [permalink]

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Day 168: Homeward bound

It's all a bit hazy now, but I think Zoe slept all night and woke up a bit early and came down to my room. Graydon appeared not long after. I made us all breakfast and then got stuck into packing.

After we were all packed up, and Zoe and Graydon had played a bit, Neal took us to REI and Best Buy to do a spot of shopping, and then dropped us at Hertz to pick up the rental car.

After lunch, we packed up the car and headed on our way to Dallas.

The drive went really well. I'd rented some sort of Chevy SUV, and it had a nice interior, and the car radio supported Pandora and had a big display. I stuck Zoe's car seat in the middle, and she was happy being able to see out the front and also see the cover art for what Pandora was dishing up. As I hoped, she napped for a couple of hours on the way up.

The drive took about three and a half hours, and I'd wanted to stop for a break along the way, but missed the exit for the only decent looking rest stop, so pressed on.

We made it to the airport with a comfortable margin of time, and had enough time for dinner. The highlight of the evening was hearing Kim Kardashian get paged twice. Everyone looked at each other and wondered if it was that Kim Kardashian and considered going to the gate she was paged to to find out.

Our flight ended up leaving a little bit late, due to needing to unload some of the cargo to make the distance and also to ensure we didn't arrive before the 5am curfew in Brisbane airport.

[04:06] [life] [permalink]

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Day 167: Hamilton Pool and Reimers Ranch Park

Zoe slept all night, but woke up with signs of coming down with a cold. She was also mighty grumpy. The plan had been to go swimming at Hamilton Pool today, and I was initially thinking we should skip it, but Eva pointed out it was like 100°F and it wouldn't really change much, so we stuck with the original plan.

Hamilton Pool allows a limited number of vehicles in at a time, and so Neal was aiming to be there at 9am when the park opened to guarantee we'd get in. We arrived right at the crack of 9am, and there were a few cars in front of us already, but we made it in successfully.

Zoe did really well walking down from the car park to the pool, and we swam around for a bit. It was out of my comfort zone for swimming (rocky floor, poor visibility, over my head water depth), but I swam across it anyway. It was a very beautiful pool carved out of the limestone by Hamilton Creek. There were a couple of points where the creek trickled over the edge overhead and made little showers.

After a couple of hours there, we returned to the car (Zoe again did really well hiking up) and drove to neighbouring Reimers Ranch, where we had our picnic lunch under cover while a rain shower passed over. We then walked down to the Pedernales River and had a swim around in there.

Zoe wore a life jacket at both swimming locations, and really enjoyed the independence of being able to float around in the deep water.

We had to be back home by 3pm, which we were, so it was a shorter day than yesterday, but a good one nevertheless. The inclement weather also seemed to drop the temperature by about 5 degrees Celsius, so it was a good day overall. Aside from the morning grumpies, Zoe was in a fabulous mood all day.

[18:23] [life] [permalink]

Day 166: The Neal Tanner tour of Austin

Alas, Zoe woke up at about 1am very sad. I'm not sure if she woke up and was so sad because of the lack of Cowie or disorientation due to the new house, but I managed to calm her down in my room downstairs and get her to go back to bed in Graydon's room, and she slept until about 7:30am. Miraculously, she didn't seem to wake up Graydon or Wiley.

Neal had some time off, and with the au pair looking after Wiley, he was able to give Zoe and I a tour of Austin with Graydon tagging along.

First stop was the Capitol building in Austin. It was a beautiful building, bigger than the Capitol building in Washington D.C. (everything's bigger in Texas). We tacked ourselves onto the end of a tour, and broke away a couple of times to check things out at our own pace.

Unfortunately the Senate wing was closed for remodeling, and the House of Representatives was being used for a mock government thing (I learned that Texas only has a part time legislature), so we weren't able to see these wings thoroughly, but we were able to go into the public gallery of the House of Representatives while the mock government thing was happening.

Zoe and Graydon had lots of fun chasing each other around the rotunda under the dome, and no one seemed to care.

After that, we drove over to Zilker Park for a picnic lunch.

After lunch, we went into Barton Springs Pool, an underground spring-fed natural pool, for a swim. The water was a very refreshing 20°C. The bottom was a bit slippery, but manageable. Once Zoe adjusted to the breathtaking cold temperature, she was fine. It was a good day to cool off, because it got up to 37°C.

After the swim, Graydon rode his bike, and Zoe borrowed his balance bike, and we made our way along the trail that ran along the edge of Town Lake, and took in a spectacular view of downtown Austin.

It was seriously hot by this stage, and Zoe was struggling a bit, so we slowly made our way back to the car. I'd spotted a frozen custard place in our travels, so we sampled some of that on the way back home.

For dinner, Neal and I popped out to Rudy's for some more tasty BBQ take out for dinner. It was quite the experience just ordering.

[13:54] [life] [permalink]

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Day 165: Switching homes, World Cup

We had a leisurely start to the day today. Zoe actually woke up and went downstairs without coming into my room. Apparently she tried waking up Vincent, but failed, and went downstairs and played on her own. I got to have a lie in until 8am, when I figured she must be sleeping in and got up to check on her to discover I was the last one up.

I packed up our suitcases and then we had one last swim in the pool. At the conclusion of the time in the pool, Henner discovered a baby snake in the pool filter, so we rescued it, and after Zoe and Vincent had a look at it and a hold, we walked it down the end of the street to return it to the wild. Hopefully it survived Vincent flinging it into the unknown.

After lunch, we packed up the cars and went around to Neal and Eva's place to watch the World Cup. Eva's half-German, and takes her German heritage seriously, so Zoe and I became honorary Germans for the afternoon. I was given a German team soccer jersey to wear, and we both put on German flag face paint. I'm no soccer fan, but it was fun anyway.

Zoe and Graydon don't seem to really remember each other from when they were next door to each other, but I think they must on a subconscious level, because they've gotten on spectacularly well. After a dinner of grilled chicken fajitas, the Schliebs' bid us farewell, and I threw all the kids in the bath. After Neal read Zoe and Graydon a story, they went to bed. I went upstairs to check on them about 20 minutes after lights out and they were still giggling away to each other. It was very cute. I think Zoe's going to have a lot of fun for the next couple of days.

I discovered when I was unpacking that Cowie was missing. After checking with Susanne, and her scouring the house, Cowie was discovered tucked into bed in Greta's princess tent, where I wouldn't have had a hope of finding her, so we'll have to do a retrieval run tomorrow at some point. I've managed to convince Zoe to go to bed with some substitute stuffed toys without much push back, but I don't know if it'll cut the mustard for the full night. We shall see.

[20:31] [life] [permalink]

Day 164: San Antonio Zoo

A big day yesterday on top of a big day the day before (and a late night).

We drove down to San Antonio to go to the San Antonio Zoo. The drive took about an hour and a half, but Zoe was happy watching a movie in the back with Vincent.

We rendezvoused with Eva and Neal and Graydon and Wiley there, and worked our way around the Zoo.

One of the things I love about America is the zoos are so much more affordable. I'll have to do a separate post about the price differences between US zoos and Australian zoos some time.

My favourite exhibit was the hippopotamus one. The hippos were submerged in an exhibit with a glass wall, so you could see above and below the waterline, and you could watch them coming up for air, and the fish nibbling away at their skin while they sat on the bottom. It held Zoe's attention for a while too.

We had a good time, and had at least superficially covered everything by early afternoon. The boys went on the train, which was a massive 20 minute ride, while Zoe and I had an ice cream.

Zoe did pretty well, but the combination of the late night the night before, the heat, and being a bit hungry before lunch made her a bit irritable. I probably carried her on my shoulders for 75% or more of the excursion. It certainly was hot.

We all stopped off for Tex Mex at Chuy's on the way home for dinner.

Zoe went to bed nice and early and slept solidly for 12 hours.

[06:22] [life] [permalink]

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Day 163: Montessori, shopping, BBQ and bats

We had quite the full day yesterday.

Susanne had arranged with Vincent's school, where he had been going to the holiday program, for Zoe to attend on Friday as well (if she wanted to). We'd been telling Zoe about it since Wednesday, and she'd been saying she didn't want to go, but I wanted her to actually see what she was declining before we made a final decision.

We tagged along on Friday morning when Susanne was dropping of Vincent. Once Zoe realised that it was just like her Kindergarten, and that the teachers seemed nice, she became more receptive to the idea, but in the end still couldn't quite bring herself to stay.

I borrowed Henner's monster pickup truck and Zoe and went to Barton Creek Square to do some clothes shopping. It was good timing, because there were heaps of sales on. I was glad that I had Zoe with me, because that way I could choose outfits for her that she actually liked.

It was the first time I've driven on the other side of the road for over a year, and in a monster pickup truck to boot. It was quite the experience.

We got back just before Susanne was going to head back to pick Vincent up, and Zoe really wanted to pick up Vincent, so Zoe went with Susanne and I popped out to a nearby mall to get something for myself and some lunch at VERTS Kebap, which is apparently a bit of a thing.

We played around in the pool in the afternoon, and then went out for dinner at The County Line, where we caught up with our old next-door neighbours, Neal and Eva and Graydon and their new addition, Wiley. Much meat was eaten.

After dinner, Henner, Vincent, Zoe and I went in to Austin to view the bats that roost under South Congress Bridge. We sat in the park under the bridge and waited for the right time for them to all fly out. There was a lady doing the rounds answering questions, and Zoe gave her a really good grilling.

We got back quite late from viewing the bats, and put the kids straight to bed.

[06:18] [life] [permalink]

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Day 162: Trampoline, zoo and more time in the pool

Zoe woke up at around her usual 1:30am, with her mosquito bites troubling her. It seems that it's always around 1:30am that they interrupt her sleep. I put some cream on them and put her back to sleep in my bed.

I think at about 3:30am I awoke to find Vincent at the foot of my bed whispering something I couldn't make out. After I woke up enough to realise what was going on, I tried to talk to him, but he got upset and left. I decided to let him go.

Zoe woke up at around 7am, and went in to Vincent's room and found Henner asleep in there with him, and came back to my room, so it sounds like it was a fun night all round. Hopefully tonight will go better.

After breakfast, Susanne dropped Vincent's little sister Greta off at day care, and Zoe and Vincent had a great time on Vincent's trampoline. I joined in with them for a while and we had much fun just mucking around on the trampoline.

After that, we were going to go somewhere (I've forgotten), but ran into traffic from President Obama's visit, so we aborted that and went to the Austin Zoo and Animal Sanctuary (it's amazing how much my muscle memory wants me to type "Zoe" when I try to type "Zoo").

It was a pretty decent Zoo. Not huge, but not half-baked either. They had a god collection of big cats, with the tigers being pretty accessible. It was hot, in the 35°C range, but the lack of humidity made the heat quite tolerable. Zoe had a lot of fun feeding some (very large) goats.

We had what felt like one of the most long miniature train rides that I've ever had, for the price of $2.50 a ticket, and then headed off to get some sandwiches for lunch.

After lunch, Vincent and Zoe had a splash around in the "splash pad" of a strip mall near Henner and Susanne's house, and then after an ice cream we went home and jumped in the pool.

Another nice day in Austin. I put Zoe to bed early again without any fuss. Hopefully the mosquito bites won't give her grief tonight.

[18:05] [life] [permalink]

Day 161: Atlanta to Austin

Yesterday was a pretty full day. We were up relatively early to head to the airport for a 10am flight. Chris dropped us off at about 8:30am. Check in was pretty quick, and I had the most amazing TSA experience I've ever had.

I think we must have gotten randomly opted into TSA Pre✓ or something, because I didn't have to take my laptop out of my bag or remove my shoes. It was amazing. We were through security in a matter of minutes. I was so astounded I almost felt the need to find a supervisor and thank them.

We made it to our gate comfortably before boarding time. Unfortunately I hadn't managed to convince Zoe to have a good breakfast, so she was already complaining of being hungry. I didn't want to miss the opportunity to pre-board by going to forage for food, so we just had to ride it out.

After we boarded and were about to push back, the plane's auxiliary power conked out. I was worried the plane was going to be broken and we've have to get off and wait for a new one, but fortunately they managed to just hook it up to gate power and restart it and we continued with our departure without it being too much later than scheduled.

The cabin crew took a while to start the refreshments, and Zoe was politely reminding me every 30 seconds that she was still hungry. The refreshments started, and then while they were half a dozen rows in front of us, the pilot announced we were heading for some turbulence and they were suspending the beverage service. Poor Zoe was very disappointed, but handled it very well.

We eventually got our snacks and drinks, which tided her over until we arrived in Austin. Susanne and Vincent sailed up to the kerb just as we emerged from the terminal, so it was very good timing.

Zoe and Vincent got along like long lost best friends. It was a battle to get Zoe to eat lunch, she was so distracted.

After some lunch and a splash around in the pool, Vincent's swim teacher arrived to give him a lesson. Zoe had been invited to join in as well, and after a few minutes watching and hesitating, she joined in. Having the swim teacher do in-home one on one lessons is awesome.

I put Zoe down to bed about half an hour earlier than normal, because that was Vincent's bedtime, and they were sharing a room. I figured with all the day's excitement, she could use the extra sleep anyway.

Austin is delightfully warm and dry. I think it was around 34°C and not much humidity. The pool was a great place to be.

[17:31] [life] [permalink]

Tuesday, 08 July 2014

Day 160: Chattahoochee Nature Centre

Zoe woke up early this morning, but mid-breakfast decided to go back to bed for a bit. I don't think she actually went back to sleep. Not sure what that was all about.

After breakfast, we drove over to the Chattahoochee Nature Centre to check it out.

Alongside the Chattahoochee River, the place was beautiful. The main thing we saw was the butterfly garden and a butterfly enclosure in a large screened tent with some flowers. Everyone was given a sugar-water drenched sponge on a stick, and the kids had a great time trying to entice butterflies onto the sticks.

There were also a few birds of prey in cages we took a look at, and then we walked around the lake, stopping to have lunch, before we headed back. It was a lovely morning out.

When we got home, the girls played in the wading pool in the backyard and generally around the house until dinner time. I used the time to try and pack as best I could.

I found a place that did Chicago-style deep dish pizza, so I ordered a pizza from them and Chris picked it up on the way home. It was delicious. I think I need to figure out how to make deep dish pizza myself.

Tomorrow morning, we head off to Austin. It's been a lovely time in Decatur, Georgia.

[18:51] [life] [permalink]

Monday, 07 July 2014

Day 159: Georgia Aquarium and a walk in the woods

I had a broken night's sleep for some reason. Zoe woke up at one point and ended up in bed with me. She slept quite late, and I ended up needing to wake her up so that we could get away on time. Even as it was, we left 30 minutes later than planned.

We spent the morning at the Georgia Aquarium. It's a pretty impressive facility. I've never been that impressed by the Monterey Bay Aquarium, but this one is certainly good. Zoe had a good time checking out everything, but it was a bit of a challenge herding four kids in the same direction at various times.

All the busy days may have been taking a bit of a toll on her, because she had a couple of minor meltdowns at the aquarium today, but recovered quickly and seemed okay otherwise.

After lunch and a little more looking around, we headed back home so James could take his nap. Briana ducked out and ran a few errands, and I held the fort down. The girls mostly disbanded and played on their own, and I finally got on top of all the photos I've been taking.

Clara had a piano lesson at 4:30pm, so we dropped her off for that, just around the corner, and went for a walk in the woods nearby. It was a beautiful little loop, that reminded me of the woods in Zurich a little bit. Unfortunately Lucy got stung by something while we were there.

I managed to get Zoe down for bed pretty early again tonight, and we don't have any tight time constraints in the morning, so I should be able to let her sleep in for as long as she likes tomorrow morning.

[18:04] [life] [permalink]

Sunday, 06 July 2014

Day 158: Piedmont Park

I went to bed ridiculously late last night, and because we had to get up relatively early to try and get away to Piedmont Park for the morning and be back in time for lunch and James' nap, this morning was a bit tough.

Piedmont Park was gorgeous. It's the Central Park of Atlanta apparently. It had a really huge dog park, and some lakes and a playground. Most importantly, it had a big fountain the kids could run through.

Everyone had a great time playing in the fountain, which was the last stop at the park before we turned around and headed back to the car.

I'm really loving how green and leafy Atlanta is. I realised today what I really love about Chris and Briana's house is it feels like it's in the middle of a forest. Looking out the window from the upstairs bathroom, all you can really see is trees. Lovely, straight and tall trees with big green leaves. Not quite as nice as a redwood forest, but pretty close.

The girls played "makeup over" after lunch, and then Briana took them out for frozen yogurt while James napped. After James woke up, Chris and James and I ran some errands. The girls had all gotten back by the time we got back, and were playing in the front yard.

I called a bunch of my friends while I wasn't having to entertain Zoe and caught up with them. It's good to be in a more conducive timezone for catching up with people.

I managed to get Zoe to bed at a more normal hour tonight, because we need to be up pretty early to get to the aquarium in the morning.

[17:49] [life] [permalink]

Saturday, 05 July 2014

Day 157: Pottering around the house and more time in the pool

I managed to sleep all night last night! I felt so much better today as a result.

It was a beautiful day today, with unseasonably low temperature and humidity.

The girls played around in the back yard for a bit in the morning once everyone got up and got going for the day, and after lunch we were going to go to a local neighbourhood park, but only got as far as the pool instead.

All of this time in the pool is certainly doing wonders for Zoe's confidence in deep water. She did lots of deep diving and swimming today.

I realised how much I'm enjoying the limited downtime of this holiday. Just the break from having to cook is massive. Skipping out on cooking but still having heaps of quality time with Zoe has been fantastic. I'm also really loving the leafy green neighbourhood.

I took the Peikerts out for dinner tonight to say thanks for having us. We had a nice dinner at a local bar. After we got home and all the kids were bathed, Zoe wanted to watch Clara practice the piano, which devolved into an impromptu piano lesson for Zoe, so I didn't end up getting her to bed until quite late. Hopefully we can all sleep in a bit tomorrow morning.

[20:19] [life] [permalink]

Day 156: Independence Day

Zoe woke up at briefly at about 1:30am wanting her blankets pulled up. I managed to get back to sleep after that, but woke up at 4:30am for the day. A slight improvement.

I'd wanted to time our visit so that we could be here for the 4th of July. We pottered around at home in the morning and then walked down the street to the neighbourhood pool for a 4th of July ice cream social. It was a bit more than ice cream though, we had sandwiches as well.

After some time in the pool, we had a nap so we'd last until after the fireworks, and after an early dinner, headed into downtown Decatur in preparation for the fireworks.

The girls had a great time playing in a local park for a while, and then we parked over in a multi-story parking garage downtown, and got into position on the roof to watch the fireworks.

We joined a friend of Chris' (also named Chris) and his two daughters, while we waited for it to get dark. Chris, Chris and I played Carcassonne on Chris' phone (it looks like a cool game, I'll have to try and get better at it) while the girls played cards and generally fooled around.

The fireworks started a bit after 9pm. There's one thing about America, it knows how to put on a good fireworks show, and this was just Decatur. Zoe was very impressed. So I'm glad I got to show her a 4th of July fireworks show.

We got home by about 10:30pm, and crashed.

[08:35] [life] [permalink]

Thursday, 03 July 2014

Day 155: Jet lagged, some shopping and more swimming

The jet lag is totally kicking my butt at the moment. I woke up at about 1:30am and stayed awake, no matter what I tried. Zoe woke up briefly not long after me, but went back to sleep in my bed and slept until nearly 8:30am when I woke her up. She's making this whole thing look easy.

So after a few coffees to kick start myself, we went out to do a spot of shopping. Turns out I forgot to pack my swim gear and shaving cream, so we went to Target to get that, and also my favourite breakfast cereal.

After that, I went to the T-Mobile store to sort out a pre-paid SIM for my phone. It's good to have a number and some mobile data now.

We had lunch at Chick-fil-A and the kids all had a bit of a play in the play area.

I crashed out for nap again after we got home. I'm slightly concerned I might be getting a sinus infection, but it's hard to tell if it's just the massive sleep deficit I'm running.

After everyone resurfaced from their various naps, (Zoe just had some quiet time playing on her tablet), we went to the pool again for a swim. Zoe got her confidence up and was swimming back to the side from where she dived in off the diving board, without requiring the use of a float.

The girls had a great hair washing line happening at bath time, which made that nice and easy.

I'm really hoping I can sleep better tonight.

[18:01] [life] [permalink]

Wednesday, 02 July 2014

Day 154: Pottering around in Decatur, museum and swimming

Zoe woke up at about 2am, Atlanta time. That corresponded with about dinner time in Brisbane. I'd actually woken up slightly before she did. She'd crawled into bed with me not long after going to bed the night before.

I'm not sure what time she went back to sleep, but I think it was around 4am. She slept until 7:30am when I woke her up to have a video call with Sarah before she went to bed. Unfortunately I wasn't able to get back to sleep, so I felt like a bit of a zombie by morning. A couple of cups of coffee helped take the edge off it for a while.

Once we got going, we went to Fernbank Museum of Natural History. Zoe got along really well with Clara, 7 and Lucy, 4. The museum was pretty nice. it had a kid's area that kept everyone occupied for a quite a while.

We got back and had some lunch, and then I went and had a nap while James, 2, also had one. It took me about an hour to actually get up after I woke up from the nap. I'm glad I had it though, because I don't think I'd have made it through the day. Zoe apparently had a great time playing with Lucy while I napped.

After that, we went to the neighbourhood pool for a swim. The pool had a low diving board, and Zoe had lots of fun jumping in off it.

I managed to get Zoe to bed relatively on time, and she passed out straight away. Hopefully with a better dinner in her belly, she'll sleep better tonight. I'm hoping I do too.

[18:13] [life] [permalink]

Day 153: The long day of traveling

"Yesterday" was a very long day. I'm sure I'm going to lose track of which day is what somewhere along the line...

I had one of the best night's sleep I've had the night before I know I need to get up early for travel. Usually I spend the whole night telling myself to hurry up and get to sleep because I have to get up early, and thus fail to do so and sleep terribly. I slept well, and was showered, dressed and breakfasted before Zoe woke up naturally herself.

We were all packed up and downstairs with our luggage before Sarah arrived to take us to the airport.

We had a comfortable amount of time at Brisbane airport waiting for our flight down to Sydney. I haven't flown Qantas for a while, and they now have iPads in all of the seat pockets as their in-flight entertainment. That kept Zoe nicely amused for that flight.

In Sydney, we transited over to the International terminal without incident. Zoe's a great size for her Trunki now, and dragging her along on that allowed for us to cover distance at pretty much my walking pace, which was perfect.

We got to the International terminal and cleared Customs with enough time grab some lunch before we boarded. They were boarding a flight to LAX and DFW at adjacent gates at roughly the same time, and in conjunction with the additional round of document checks that they like to do for flights to the US it was total bedlam. We got to the gate just as they were starting the pre-boarding for people with children, so that worked out well, and we got to jump the queue.

Zoe did absolutely fabulously for the flight from Sydney to Dallas. She watched some movies and then went to sleep only a little bit later than her normal bed time and pretty much slept all the way through until I had to wake her up for breakfast, which was at about 3:30am Brisbane time. She didn't sleep again until we got to Atlanta, but wasn't the worse for wear for it. My head cold also didn't give me much grief. I didn't need to resort to any drugs on the flight.

Our arrival into Dallas went pretty well. The only thing I could have done better was figure out where the car seat had been put a bit sooner (it wasn't put with where the signed oversize baggage was) so we burned a bit of time finding it. They have a new electronic self-service kiosk thing for their border control. It was pretty cool, but it still bounced us to a human for processing. I'm not sure if it was because I had declared food, or because I was traveling with a minor US citizen, or some combination of the above.

The US border control did a better job of handling the fact that I was traveling on my own with a child than the Australian passport control did on the way out. The Australian departure passport control didn't seem to care at all that I was traveling on my own with Zoe, but the US guy wanted to know where her mother was, and what my wife did. It wasn't until I said that she was almost my ex-wife that he wanted to know if she knew I was traveling with Zoe, and I produced the letter I had brought with me as a precaution. That was the extent of the questioning I received (aside from how I planned to support myself for my stay).

That said, even though I had planned for that level of questioning, the interaction still left me feeling a bit unsettled. I can expect at least that much scrutiny for any travel I do with Zoe from now on. I guess it's a good thing, but I don't like the default assumption that I'm possibly an international child abductor. It also left me wondering if the same level of scrutiny would occur if Zoe was traveling with her mother, or if it was just a gender stereotype.

We cleared immigration to then get stuck in a longish line for Quarantine, which went fine. I had hoped that we could recheck our luggage immediately on the other side, like I believe you can do in LAX, but that was not the case. We had to schlepp all our luggage over to the Delta terminal on one of the shuttles. We possibly missed a shuttle while I was figuring all this out.

By the time we got a shuttle and got to the right terminal, we'd just missed the bag check deadline for our flight, so we had to get bumped from the 3:45pm flight to the 5pm one. It wasn't a big deal, but it delayed our pick up in Atlanta, and made for a longer day of traveling. Delta was really nice and waived all the baggage fees though, since we were coming from an international flight. That was nice.

That said, it did give us a more leisurely time in the terminal in Dallas. I had time to call Chris and Briana and let them know of our delay, and get Zoe something to eat.

The flight from Dallas to Atlanta was uneventful. Zoe entertained herself with her tablet on the flight.

When we arrived in Atlanta, Zoe remembered the inter-terminal train from her last trip with Sarah. We collected our luggage and rendezvoused with Chris on the kerb.

We had a hasty dinner and Briana gave Zoe a bath for me, and I put her to bed, and went to bed not long after her. It ended up being a mammoth day, in the order of about 32 hours door to door. I was so incredibly impressed with how well Zoe handled it all. Not one single meltdown. The only time she was really sad was briefly when she managed to overbalance on the chairs in the Sydney International terminal just before we boarded our flight, and landed on her head, all while I was putting our passports away and not watching her.

[18:00] [life] [permalink]

Monday, 30 June 2014

Day 152: Mostly trip preparation

We had a pretty quiet day today, as I was still trying to kick the dregs of my man cold, and it was cold with a howling wind outside.

The first thing we did when Sarah dropped Zoe off was assemble the IKEA bookshelf I got for her room on the weekend. She now has four shelves instead of two, and so now her books don't have to be precariously balanced on top of another set of shelves. Zoe seemed to enjoy helping me put it together.

After that, we popped out to the bank to sort out some US dollars. The Cash Passport has evolved significantly since we first moved to the US, and the Traveller Card is a pretty nice product.

After a stop at the pharmacy to stock up on pseudo-ephedrine for the flight and a stop at the post office to put the mail on hold, we came back home and put a bunch of the Woolworths Jamie's Garden stickers in Zoe's sticker album.

After that, a lot of TV was watched, and I alternated between watching TV with Zoe and packing. I can now say that I've watched the pilot for the Muppet Show. It wasn't that good. I think I'm on top of the packing, and am generally feeling organised for the trip. The one thing I haven't done yet is book a rental car for the drive from Austin to Dallas on the way home.

Anshu came over for dinner, and I managed to get Zoe to bed a bit early, which should help get us going early in the morning, when Sarah picks us up to take us to the airport.

[05:13] [life] [permalink]

Friday, 27 June 2014

Day 149: Kinderdance open day, and not much else

Today was the much anticipated open day for the last Kinderdance class of the term, where I actually get to see what we got for our money.

I'd offered to pick up Sarah and her mother from the city and transport them there and back, since neither of them drive to work, so we got ready early and drove into the city to collect them and then drove over to the Kinderdance venue.

Mum and Dad arrived shortly afterwards, and we all sat at one end of the dance floor to watch the girls perform.

It was really cute. It was, as best I can tell from when I've peeked through the window from the adjacent kitchen, just like any other lesson. The teacher still led the whole thing, but I guess the girls all had it pretty much ingrained in them after 10 weeks.

The theme was "under the sea" so all of the warm ups and actual "dance" routines were all vaguely nautical. It was really great to watch, and Zoe looked like she enjoyed herself. She kept waving and blowing kisses to all of us in the audience.

Mum and Dad came back to my place for lunch afterwards. Zoe and I dropped Sarah and her Mum back in the city first.

After lunch and a bit of a play with grandpa, Mum and Dad left, and then Zoe announced that she wanted to have a nap. I put her to bed, and she probably napped for about 2 and a half hours. It's been a while since I've had nap time to put my feet up, so I used the time to sort through all of the photos from the sports day and Kinderdance. I should have gone through the photos from her birthday party too, but I forgot.

By the time Zoe resurfaced and had some afternoon tea, there wasn't a lot of time left in the day. I had to be available for someone to come and service the building's hot water heater, so we couldn't go out and do any pre-holiday trip shopping.

Sarah arrived to pick up Zoe for the weekend, and that was pretty much it.

That's the end of Kinderdance now. Next term, Zoe's going to try tennis as her extracurricular activity.

[01:46] [life] [permalink]

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Day 148: Car washes, play dates and haircuts

We had one of those comfortably full days today.

Zoe slept really well last night, almost 12 hours. Her cough seems to be markedly better in terms of frequency, but it still sounds pretty bad when she does cough.

We had a leisurely start to the day, and went to the car wash first. Hoppy's Handwash Cafe is a far cry from Lozano's brushless Car Wash (which doesn't even appear to run to a website, it's so low budget). Hoppy's by comparison costs the bomb, but is quite the fancy establishment, with iPads littered all over the place for your (or in my case, your kid's) entertainment, while a display informs you of the progress of your car being washed. It also features a mid-range cafe. Hey, they have babyccinos. I discovered today that they even have some sort of "gun" where you can shoot something at the cars as they travel along the conveyor belt. Not sure if shooting at the staff is encouraged.

Zoe discovered all the windows today as we were trying to leave, so we had to spend some extra time watching how the sausage was made car was washed.

On the way home, we picked up some stuff from the Hawthorne Garage to make guacamole. I forgot the tomato, so we had to walk back once we got home.

Zoe's friend Frankie from Kindergarten was coming for lunch, with her Mum Zhenya and little brother Hardy. Hardy was a bit knackered after his swim class, so they ended up coming an hour later than planned, but we killed the time watching Swedish Chef videos on Youtube (Zoe's idea).

Frankie and her Mum and brother arrived for lunch, and I whipped up some chicken quesadillas to go with the guacamole. The kids all had a great time playing after lunch. Today I learned about cardboard box rivets from Zhenya, so I can see some of them in our future.

Zoe and Frankie did a spot of baking after lunch, and then they headed off.

I managed to book in haircuts for both of us in the afternoon, so after a bit of a clean up, we walked to the hairdresser and got our haircuts and then walked home again.

I was feeling lazy, so we had some frozen leftovers for dinner (the real excuse is the dishwasher was still going and the Thermomix bowl was in it).

I got Zoe to bed on time without much of a peep.

[04:42] [life] [permalink]

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Day 147: Kindergarten end of term 2 and cleaning

This morning was abnormally crazy on account of yesterday's sick day for Zoe.

I picked up Zoe from Sarah to take her to Kindergarten on account of not having done it yesterday, but I couldn't head over there until after my 8am chiropractic adjustment. That worked out okay in the end, because Zoe slept in anyway.

I didn't get Zoe to Kindergarten until around 9am, and I had volunteered to put a written communication from the PAG into all of the childrens' notice pockets, as well as a couple of other things that the Director asked me if I could do.

That involved folding two out of the three pieces of paper and putting it in 88 pockets. It took me about an hour. It was nice to be able to eavesdrop on the normal Kindergarten chatter though. I'll have to try and spend a full day at the Kindergarten as a parent helper next term.

Zoe's cough seems to have improved somewhat. No idea if that's as a result of the inhalers or she's just getting over whatever illness she may have.

After I finally got home, I did a bit of cleaning before my massage. I wasn't sure if I'd get the cleaning finished before I had to be back at Kindergarten for pick up, so I lined up a play date with Megan's Dad for after Kindergarten. In the end I managed to knock out the bulk of the cleaning before 2pm, so it was all good, but I still went with the play date anyway, as it let me finish things off properly.

I picked up Zoe from Megan's house, and after a cup of tea with Jason we headed home.

I managed to get dinner and bath time time pretty early, so I put Zoe to bed half an hour early. Based on what Sarah's told me, she's started coughing at around 4:30am, so it'll be interesting to see how she goes overnight, and if anything correlates with room temperature.

[02:51] [life] [permalink]

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Day 146: A unexpected Zoe-free day, and lots of startup stuff as a result

Zoe apparently coughed all night last night, so Sarah decided to keep her home from Kindergarten today. We had a bit of a chat this afternoon about whether or not it could be asthma, and have set up a shared diary to keep track of her symptoms for a while.

I got stuck into my real estate course today, and finished off the final bit of assessment that has been dogging me for one module, and completed another module and its assessment, and am half way through the next module after that.

Smudge had her annual check up from the vet. Dr Anthony came out this time, and he was really lovely. He spent about 45 minutes here, and gave Smudge a very thorough examination and a vaccination. I'm really impressed by their service. It beats trying to wrangle a cat in the car to the vet. It was too bad that Zoe wasn't here this afternoon, because I thought she would have enjoyed watching.

I also finally managed to get some traction talking to Origin Energy about getting the building's hot water heater replaced, so hopefully cold showers in the morning will soon be a thing of the past. The state sales manager for retrofits came out and talked to me and looked at the plant and is going to send through a proposal soon.

I've moved my fortnightly evening yoga class to Tuesdays to better fit in with Anshu's amateur theatre schedule, so I'm looking forward to topping off a productive day with a good yoga session.

[01:57] [life] [permalink]

Monday, 23 June 2014

Day 145: Kindergarten, random stuff and looking after Charlie

Zoe woke up a bit early this morning at 5:38am. We snuggled in bed for a while, but I don't think there was any more sleep.

She's been coughing constantly since yesterday, and I took her to school in the car to keep her out of the cold air. I debated whether to send her at all, but she was in good spirits, and we had to bring Charlie home after Kindergarten.

I had a call with the Family Relationship Centre at 9:30am, and so I mostly faffed around until that happened, and then felt pretty listless afterwards, so I didn't get a whole lot of anything significant done today. I did pull together some numbers needed to file what I expect to be my last FBAR. That is one thing I will most definitely not miss about having any connection with the US.

I'd offered to help out Charlie's parents, Odette and Julian, while their daughter with cystic fibrosis was in hospital for treatment, by picking up Charlie after Kindergarten. Today was a day they took me up on the offer, so Charlie came home with us. I keep thinking of Charlie bit my finger.

He was fine with the whole thing, despite not having really had much to do with me prior to today. The most complicated part of the whole thing was trying to get his car seat into my car. He seemed quite excited to be coming home with Zoe. I might need my shotgun sooner than I thought.

I was a bit unsure of how to entertain a boy, but he was pretty easy going. He was happy to pat Smudge and follow Zoe around. They were pretty quiet in her room, and when I looked in on them, they were sitting on the bed together and Charlie was watching Zoe play a game on her tablet.

They did a bit of painting together, and then I busted out the Kinetic Sand, which hasn't seen any use for months, and that kept them occupied for a good amount of time. They watched a little bit of TV and then Julian arrived to pick him up. It was all pretty easy really.

I managed to get Zoe a doctor's appointment that dovetailed nicely with the afternoon's schedule, so we headed over to see him. He said her chest sounded clear. For the last couple of doctor's visits there's been a lot of talk about asthma, given I had it as a child. He prescribed her a Flixotide inhaler. It's just so hard to tell if it's asthma, or a post-nasal drip-related cough that's hanging around. I'm a bit paranoid about letting an untreated cough go for too long lest it wind up being bronchitis.

Since we were already out in the car, I dropped Zoe around to Sarah's place.

[04:59] [life] [permalink]

Friday, 20 June 2014

Day 142: Kinderballet, lunch out and some bike riding practice

Today was a really nice day. Just the right amount of "full".

Sarah dropped Zoe around in the morning, and after a bit of TV, we headed over to Kinderballet. The dance school that also uses the facilities was having exams today, so we were relegated downstairs to a smaller room. There was no adjacent kitchen for all the parents to sit in, so we all had to just congregate outside in the drizzle.

I struck up a conversation with (I keep wanting to write "another") a mother. She had a teenage son from a previous marriage, and it was interesting to hear about her experiences with shared care. The time went pretty quickly chatting with her.

After Kinderballet, we went home. I had to make a couple of lengthy phone calls, and Zoe was really patient and entertained herself on her tablet while she waited for me.

Then we headed down to Oxford Street to meet my friends Brett and Rosemary for lunch. I brought the tablet with us to keep Zoe entertained. Again, she was really good all through lunch. Initially, she didn't want her lunch and was more interested in my "breakfast for lunch" plate, but after she had sampled all of mine (she really liked dipping her chips in my hollandaise sauce), she ate a bit of hers as well. I don't normally cook her steak at home, so I think the steak was a bit of a novelty for her.

The service was so bad that I couldn't bring myself to spend any more money there and get some cake to share, but Zoe has a mind like a steel trap, particularly when it comes to dessert (she is her father's daughter), so we went to Max Brenner, since I had mentioned cake.

That took us through to about 2pm, and the weather cleared up to reveal a pretty nice day, so I thought some practise riding the bike was in order to burn off some of the calories.

We got home, and discovered that the Ergo Performance that I'd lent my sister had arrived in the mail. She wasn't using it any more, and I wanted to see if Zoe could still fit in on my back for while we're in the US, in case she gets tired.

Turns out she does still fit in it, and is good for another 3 kg or so before she's too heavy for it. She also thought it was huge fun to be strapped onto my back, and so I had her strapped onto me while we loaded up the car with her bike, and I talked to the guy who had come out to service the building's hot water heater.

We really need to make use of the Minnippi Parklands more often. The place is a beautiful oasis, and the perfect spot for learning to ride a bike. The bike path is long, straight, flat and not too busy, so we did quite a few runs back and forth. Zoe didn't fall over once, and I think if we can do this a few more times she should get her confidence up.

After that, we headed back home, and I got dinner on. Bath time and bedtime ran a bit early, but that was okay. I'm thinking we might go back to Minnippi again tomorrow after swim class.

[04:03] [life] [permalink]

Day 141: Sports Day and not a lot else

I started the day off with a yoga class. I was pretty tired from staying up too late watching the State of Origin last night, so I wasn't as into it as usual.

I had a rushed morning to try and get over to Sarah's to pick up Zoe, and skipped breakfast until we got back, and then we biked over to Kindergarten for their Sports Day.

As we pulled out of the garage, it started drizzling, but Zoe was adamant that we go by bike, so I stuck with it. Fortunately it didn't do any more than drizzle on the way, and Zoe had enough layers on that she didn't seem to notice.

The Sports Day was pretty much just the neighbouring State School inviting the Kindergarten kids to join in as well. There was all the kids from the second half of the week plus whatever kids showed up from the first half of the week. It drizzled on and off throughout.

As they were marshaling the kids for their race, Zoe announced she needed to go to the toilet, so I bolted back to the Kindergarten with her. Fortunately she didn't miss her race.

More annoyingly, I forgot to charge my SLR last night, and the small amount of juice left in the battery wasn't enough, and the camera gave up before Zoe's race. So I have a few photos of random Kindergarten kids running, but not Zoe.

After that, we biked home again. It had stopped raining, fortunately.

It was a pretty grey and miserable day though, and I didn't really have anything in particular planned. After lunch, I thought I'd see if I could find a copy of How to train your dragon, since the new movie is out now, and I was thinking we could go see it tomorrow if the weather remained lousy.

Blockbuster over at Cannon Hill had a copy, so we drove over there and I rented it. We made some popcorn and watched it together. I didn't realise the movie was rated PG until we started watching it, but it wasn't too bad. Only slightly worse than The Incredibles. The dialog may have been a bit over Zoe's head for parts, but she enjoyed it nevertheless. Now that I know the sequel is PG, I'm unsure about taking Zoe to see it. I'll have to do some research.

Zoe wanted to do a bit of craft after the movie, so we did that, and then Sarah arrived to pick her up.

[04:00] [life] [permalink]

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Day 140: Play dates and baking

Today was a busy day of play dates and baking.

Zoe's friend from Kindergarten, Frankie, was supposed to come over for a play date first thing this morning, but her mother, Zhenya, send me a message early saying that Frankie was sick.

We used the time to pop down to the post office to mail off Riley's birthday present to him, and make a start on the pumpkin muffins that I was going to bake with the girls.

Megan's Dad was doing some roofing work on their house today, and had asked me if I could look after Megan for a couple of hours while he was faffing around on the roof, so he dropped Megan around at 11am. I whipped up a bunch of chicken quesadillas for lunch.

After lunch, I did the girls' nails, which proved a very effective way to kill time. I did one hand at a time, and swapped people with each hand. Including top coats, that got us to 1pm very nicely.

I had to be at Kindergarten to chair the monthly Parent Advisory Group meeting, so I dropped Zoe and Megan back to Megan's place while I went to the meeting.

After the meeting, I had a quick phone interview with a writer for Practical Parenting, who was looking to do a story on single Dads for the Father's Day issue.

Jason was still on the roof when I got back, so I offered to take Megan back with me until he had to pick up her little sister from day care near our place. We brought her scooter with us.

We got back home, and grabbed Zoe's scooter, and the girls scootered down to Hardcastle Park by the river and had a bit of a play in the park. Helena from Kindergarten was down there too.

We didn't have a lot of time to play in the park by the time we got there, as I was mindful that the return journey would be slower because the girls were getting tired. Sure enough, Megan went on strike a few times on the way back. Jason was already on his way over, and he met us on Hawthorne Road.

Particularly when she's tired, Megan doesn't seem to like parting company with Zoe, so there were a few tears and general procrastination. Sarah arrived to pick up Zoe during the melee.

It was definitely a collapse on the couch with a glass of Scotch night. A great night to be watching the second State of Origin game.

[01:49] [life] [permalink]

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Day 139: Kindergarten, startup stuff

Today was another jam packed crazy day.

Zoe woke up at 2:48am and jumped into bed with me. I'm not entirely sure why she woke up, but I'm going to say the fact that her room was 17° C probably had something to do with it. I'd put her to bed in some size 3 footed fleecy pajamas, and she was complaining about the footed bits annoying her feet or something. After some fidgeting around, we both managed to get back to sleep.

As a result of the disturbed sleep and it being bloody cold (by Brisbane standards), it was a slow start this morning. We biked to Kindergarten, and had quite a late drop off.

I had Zoe's pillow that she naps on wedged into the storage in the back of her bike trailer, and somehow, almost at Kindergarten, the pillow got sucked into the wheel of her trailer. It took me a while to figure out what the problem was, because it felt as if I'd jammed the brakes on. It took me a while to figure out which wheel was misbehaving.

I left the trailer at the Kindergarten, which made the bike back home more pleasant, and eventually got stuck back into my real estate assessment. I managed to finish off the piece of assessment I'd been working on from the previous week and submit it, and knock out a couple more modules of training material before it was time to bike back to pick up Zoe.

Zoe wanted to crash Megan's tennis class again, but Megan was running a bit late, so they'd already finished the warm ups. I wanted to dash out to K-Mart to see if I could find some size 4 footed pajamas, so after a few tears (from Zoe), we headed home on the bike.

We drove over to Cannon Hill to go to K-Mart, and the footed pajama selection was very disappointing. We did the rounds of the dollar stores as well to see if they had anything, and they didn't, so we returned empty handed.

Megan and her Dad and little sister were coming for dinner, and I was trying to make shepherd's pie. I realised after we got home that I was missing a couple of ingredients, so had to dash out again to grab them, which further delayed me starting dinner (had I had a bit more presence of mind, I could have had the mashed potatoes cooking in the Thermomix while I was grabbing the extra ingredients, but I didn't). As a result, dinner was phenomenally late, but the girls all had a good time playing together, and I gave Zoe a shower instead of a bath to try and bring bedtime back on track.

Tonight's not supposed to be as cold, but I've got her in some non-footed pajamas and socks, so we'll see how they go. I hope she sleeps well, I've got play dates galore lined up.

[03:57] [life] [permalink]

Monday, 16 June 2014

Day 138: Kindergarten, and a whole lot of errands

Today was supposed to be my Debian (or at least tinkering) day. None of that happened.

It was pretty cold this morning and I was a little bit slow getting going, but that said, I was out the door by about 9am.

First, I went to post office to collect a package. My blink(1) mk2's that I'd backed on Kickstarter ages ago had finally arrived.

Then I had to pick up something from one of Anshu's friends over at Cannon Hill. Since I was in the neighbourhood, I decided to have a good look at the K-Mart that's over there. I've been conditioned to shopping at Target from being in the US, but Tanya had been selling me on the virtues of K-Mart, so I went for a leisurely browse today.

I picked up a few bits of clothing for Zoe, and a few travel items for our upcoming trip to the US (which is really sneaking up on me fast) and generally better familiarised myself with the shopping centre. It's actually pretty good. I should go there more often instead of Westfield Carindale.

On the way back home, I dropped into Beaurepaires for some new tyres for the car. They had a sale on, so I got 4 tyres for the price of 3. They were going to keep the car until 1pm, so I wandered around the Colmslie shops that I hadn't been in before, and then jumped on a bus home.

My US accountant had a heap of questions for me about my tax return, so I had to dig up information for him, and then I missed the return bus back because I was talking to one of my neighbours about Body Corporate stuff, so I walked back to pick up the car. It was surprisingly walkable, and it was a nice day for it.

I picked up the car, and by the time I'd refueled, it was close to Kindergarten pick up time, so I headed over there and did some emails and phone calls.

I'm glad I got there early, because I chatted with Charlie's Mum, Odette in the car park. Charlie's little sister has cystic fibrosis, and has to go into hospital next week for two weeks of IV antibiotics. I was glad that I was able to offer to help out with picking up Charlie after Kindergarten, and Odette really appreciated it.

As is often the case, Zoe and Megan were keen to get together after Kindergarten, but Megan's Mum, Laura, wanted to take her shoe shopping at Carindale, so as a compromise, we tagged along as well. The Kindergarten is having a sports day on Thursday, and I wasn't sure if Zoe had any proper running shoes or not. It turns out she does, so I didn't need to buy any today, which was good.

The girls had a sorbet after the shoe shopping, and then Zoe and I headed home. I was a bit disorganised with dinner, so it was a bit later than I'd have liked, but I still managed to get Zoe to bed roughly on time.

I'm looking forward to having a play with my blink(1) mk2's now.

[03:55] [life] [permalink]

Saturday, 14 June 2014

I have new respect for the humble cup of coffee

This morning I did a three hour barista course with Barista Basics. I'd found them in my Entertainment Book with a 25% discount coupon.

At one point I had a crazy business idea that revolved around coffee, so I thought I'd find out a bit more about making it. Google was littered with fancy espresso machines that I'd never known how to use, and I was never much of a coffee drinker anyway, but now I wish I'd at least known how to use the machines that were freely at my disposal. Oh well.

It was a really great course, and I didn't have time to even check the clock until we had 30 minutes left. I have a lot of respect for baristas now, and what they have to juggle to crank out coffee orders. The course was lots of fun, and I really wish I could get some more time on an espresso machine now!

[01:13] [life] [permalink]