The Milk Bottle Economy

As Jason sat in his Boosti seat the other day watching dad unpack the dishwasher, I got to talking about money and milk bottles and was quite surprised at how well I could ramble on about how the humble milk bottle has influenced my life.  Of course, Jason is now only “nearly” 5 months old, so he just laughed and smiled as I told stories from my youth.

As a three or perhaps four-year-old, I remember being in between moves from Canberra to the Gold Coast, and we were living in a caravan park.  My usual pocket money, perhaps once every 3 or 4 days, was a good old bronze 2 cent piece, with which I would merrily trot up to the parks front office, and hand my hard-earned over for 2 scrumptious (read: full of sugar) milk bottle sweets.  It was obviously one of the highlights of those days, as I remember trotting off to the office on a regular basis, ecstatic about my spoils of the day and looking forward to my 5-minute sugar high.  I’m sure, being the kid I was, and if I was anything like Jason is now, this would have driven my parents bonkers.


Then a funny thought dawned on me.  The 2 cent coin is now non-existent, however what would be the current price for those 2 tiny little milk bottles?  I’m assuming, taking into account inflation, the off-shore outsourcing of Australian production to Asian markets, and current commodities pricing, the cost of my two little lollies is now in the vicinity of 10 cents.

Wow.  Lucky kid you are Jason.  I figure in about 3 years I will be up for between 20 and 30 cents per week to keep this little one happy and dosed up on sweets.  Hmm.. I think we’ll save them for when we see mummy pulling up in the drive-way after her day at work.

We moved on to how, when I was a child, Canberra still had glass milk bottles and regular milk deliveries.  Basically, you would leave out, say, two empty milk bottles and 40 cents, and your two empties would be replaced by two full milk bottles.  Mum used to store the empty milk bottles near the front door, so when you went outside to leave your money for the delivery, you would pick up the empties to take out with you.

Anyway, an enduring memory of the milk bottles was dad racing off down the street, empty milk bottle held aloft above his head, with two panic-stricken Mormon a few metres ahead of him, running for their lives.  Apparently the story goes that, on their previous visit to our house, dad had asked them a little more pleasantly never to return.  On this occasion, they did never knock on the door again.

It’s sad that in the modern world of big business, big profits and big supermarkets, the need for profits have invariable stripped the new generation of having the same memories that I have of my childhood, no matter how trivial they seem.  In this case, Jason will probably never know what a ‘Milko” is.  If I were to take a leaf out of my fathers book, all I would have to grab at the front door would be an old shoe or a thong.  I don’t see Mormon being as intimidated by a stinky Salomon shoe.

What memories of your childhood are you concerned that your kids will never get to experience?  I be there are quite a few.

Time – A marketable commodity

After all of the planning, hard work and organising that occurred prior to Jason’s arrival, the biggest impact that I’ve noticed on my life thus far, is that my 3-hour work day theory went straight out the window on day 1.

There were a few raised eyebrows when I first revealed my startling 3-hour work day theory to the rest of the world.  Streamline my business, prioritise and diarise my life, so that I would become time rich and have all the time in the world for Jason.

I now understand the raised eyebrows!

Take 2 – Streamline my business, prioritise and diarise my life, so that I can work 3 hour days once Amanda goes back to work in January.

Will that work this time?  In theory – no!  You can’t make a change without altering your approach.

In practice – it must work!  I’ve had over a month now to see how this species that we call “baby” works, and it works by gobbling up all of your time, and then some!  Come January, this time gobbling “mini-me” will be taking up all of my waking hours.  Does this mean I’ll be working in my sleep?  I think so.

So then, what is my ‘changed approach’?  How am I going to release the shackles of working from home so that I can be more SAHD than WAHD?

Stuffed if I know!  In fact my current workload is ludicrous and would make for some hilarious reading if it weren’t so factual.  Here tis:

  • A.  Launch a new business in the next few weeks.
  • B.  Run my biggest event of the year in 2 and a half weeks – 1,000 competitors.
  • C.  Passing by home for an overnight sleep, drive straight through to Brisbane for an event the very next  weekend, mixed in with introducing Jason to his Grand Parents for the very first time.
  • D.  In between returning to Queensland two weeks later, then heading for Canberra the following weekend, and with Christmas descending down on us at a great rate of knots, including the visit of Jason’s US-based Grand Parents, attempt to scope the possibility of adding a new 72-hour Adventure Race to my calendar for next year.
  • E.  Send Amanda off to do her Masters Degree next year.
  • F.  Purchase a home in our hometown of Port Macquarie.
  • G. Add a new puppy dog to the happy little family for good measure.

It’s all a bit ambitious, and probably a little stupid really.  What keeps me going is that we’re doing it all for the right reasons, we’re passionate about it, and well, others have managed it in the past so at the end of the day, it is all do-able.  But I crave more time.  How do people seem to breeze through life with what appears to be an abundance of time on their side?  It seems to me that the harder you work and the more fun you have, the quicker the time flies by.

Does anyone have tips to break the shackles and free up time in their life?

2013 – Year of the Selfie

The advancement of technology has given us some very strange fads over the past few years.

Planking, Owling, Stocking, Batmanning, and the good old Selfie.

I have to admit, I’ve been sucked into a couple of these fads on a few occasions, but rarely has the evidence surfaced.  I, like 99% of other people, find myself highly non-photogenic, to the point where I’d probably prefer to stare at the butt of a Hippopotamus rather then my own noggin.

In Australia, we endured a federal election lead-up in which it seemed that ‘he with the best selfie’ was bound to win the election.  On TV last night, Angelina Jolie stopped to teach fans in outback New South Wales how to take the perfect selfie and, casting my mind back nearly 5 weeks, a very nervous father-to-be stood waiting, pacing, sweating in the waiting room of the operating theatres, preparing to go in to witness the birth of his son.  At first, he called his brother for some reassurance, some calming words of advice….. and after that – it happened.

Hospital selfie
Hospital selfie

It’s hard to describe.  It’s as if you’ve run out of options.  The nerves have got away from you, the brain wonders what on earth it can do next.  You tap the outside of your pockets looking for your iPhone, and before you know it, the camera is there in front of you, arms extended outwards, trying not to smile to avoid looking wrinkly, chin up so to avoid the possibility of looking double-chinned, and there you have it, the Selfie that was never meant to be, all because you ran out of options – ways to fidget!…. and you took a photo to remind yourself of that occasion that seemed so surreal.

Jason has to live with this for the rest of his life.  “See, there’s Dad 15 minutes before we met, taking a selfie”…… Poor Kid!

What’s your embarrassing selfie like?

Road Trippin’

As much as we’ve planned for this work trip down to Sydney, I’m sure that something has to give…..

This will be Jason’s first long trip in the car, and it will be an interesting one at that.  Destination Sydney – 2 nights in a caravan park cabin in the middle of Sydney, and then a night at the Sydney Sports Academy Motel the night before our event on Sunday, and then perhaps a drive home (~6hrs) following the event on Sunday.

We meticulously planned things prior to Jason’s arrival, we have enough nappies to last 3 months, enough clothes to last until his 18th birthday (well not quite, but you get the picture).  Planning also involved the acquisition of our new car, a current Toyota Landcruiser WorkMate, which arrived 2 weeks before Jason and, because Jason was delivered via Caesar, we’ve spent the last 2 days hectically shuffling cars, ripping the electric brake system out of the old, and into the new.  The reason for this is that our old Troopie didn’t have rear seats for baby, and for this trip I have to take baby and 3.5 tonne trailer in the one haul.  Previously the plan was for Amanda to drive down separately in the new car while I took the old Troopie + trailer, but insurance won’t allow Amanda to drive following a Caesar.

The Trailer and the old Troopie
The Trailer and the old Troopie

It is what it is.  We’ve prepared as best we can.  Now it’s time to see that it goes off without a hitch.

Not a very insightful or entertaining blog post – however I now sign off for several days while I have an event to run.  See you on the flipside.

When two worlds collide

I distinctly remember, aged about 25, single, hopeless with girls, driving along a street near home, when a pretty strange thought occurred to me.  I looked at all the houses as I drove past, and it occurred to me that my future wife could be in any one of those houses that I was driving past.

Short of becoming a stalker and  stalking every young lady that lived in the same street as me, I let the thought be just that, a thought, and it was gone as soon as it had arrived.

Little did I know that, at the age of 25, my wife was a 16 year old Senior High student at Okemos High School in Michigan, USA.  Certainly no where near that street that I drove along that night.

Many years later, on the day that the Sydney Swans won the premiership flag in 2005, I was competing in an Adventure Race in Bungonia Gorge in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales.  I remember my race time, spot on 16hours. I remember my race partner, Mick.  I remember the final leg was a big mountain bike ride.  It was dark by this time, and we were dodging suicidal wombats darting out in front of us on a fairly regular basis.  And I remember the sweet smiling face of the pretty young lady that was volunteering on the finish line as I arrived at 11pm, blue beanie covering up her head, rugged up in a warm jacket, and interested more in my mountain bike than me.  That night, I didn’t gain a girlfriend, but Specialized bikes made a sale!  Incidentally, she had ridden her road bike 170km from Sydney to the Southern Highland to volunteer for the event – indeed a fellow nutter!

The early days of our relationship, with our fur-child Wrex
The early days of our relationship, with our fur-child Wrex

Fast forward about 2 months.  I was preparing for another Adventure Race, pouring over maps with about 1 hour before start time.  My flat-mate at the time, Jamie, had lined up a team through the internet, sight unseen, and wouldn’t you know, it was the girl from the finish line.  She walked into the room with her team to prepare for the race, and I have to admit, I gave her more than a few quick glances… wow!!

On our wedding day in 2008
On our wedding day in 2008

A few more months rolled on, and valentines day 2006 came around, and it happened to coincide with, yep you guessed it, another Adventure Race.  To keep a long story short, I organised a framed picture with sweet words written on the back of it, and gift wrapped it.  I then got the race organiser to present it to Amanda’s best-friend who was at the event, so that they could take it home to Amanda.  Present was successfully distributed – to the wrong person.  The wrong person unwrapped the gift, stood around with their friends reading the “sweet nothings” on the back, and yours truly quietly retreated to the bar and ordered a very stiff drink, discretely called the event organiser and explained their little stuff-up.

The picture that started it all. Needless to say, I get nervous when people try to turn it around and read what’s on the back:)

The little stuff-up above was corrected – very successfully!, and the rest is history.  Married over 5 years, Jason our son now 3 weeks old.  It’s incredible how two lives become one!  What’s your story?

3 Weeks down – a review

Little Jason turns 3 weeks old today.

I can’t say it hasn’t been the steepest learning curve I’ve ever been on.  But, at the same time, Amanda & I seem to be taking it in our stride.  Crunch time comes next Thursday when we hit the road to run an event next weekend in Sydney town.

So, what are the biggest lessons learnt so far?

  • Babies sleep 16 hours a day?  It’s a myth.  Mixed in with some very quick micro-sleeps, Jason seems to perhaps sleep 2 x 3-hour solid sleeps per day (IF we’re lucky).
  • They poo & wee – ALOT!  So much so, that it’s impossible to pick the gaps in between poo’ing and wee’ing without being poo’d or wee’d on at least once a day.
  • They’re very cute when they sleep.
  • They would be very cute while they’re awake, except you’re freaking out about when those searching glances around the room are going to turn into a red-faced high-pitched squeal.
  • Our spare bed is very comfortable.  Perhaps that’s just because I don’t get disturbed every 10 minutes with a poke and the words “Roll over, you’re snoring”.
  • Wrex, my old Blue Heeler who sadly passed on last year, was the best preparation for fatherhood that I’ve ever had.  But there are a few flaws in what he taught me!  a). Fortunately, I have still resisted the temptation to turf Jason outside when we go to bed, b) I have remembered not to rub his nose in his own poo, and c) I haven’t tried to teach Jason to walk on lead yet.  That would be silly!  He can’t even crawl yet!
  • The lint filter on the washing machine now fills up every day.  I can’t work out whether this is the towels or his sleep suits?
  • The large rubbish and recycle bins that we were never able to fill, do actually fill quite easily.
  • When you go for a drive, it takes 10 minutes to get going, rather than the 30 seconds it used to take to grab your keys and get out the door.
  • Old English Seeded Mustard – I don’t think I’ll ever eat the stuff again!

I know there is more that I have learnt, and there will be a lot more in the future, but there is a quick sample for today.  What are the biggest lessons that you’ve learnt in the first 3 weeks of your childs life?

1…….2……… 3’s

In the lead up to fatherhood, many things go through your mind.  One of the greatest concerns I had can be best summed up by this classic Aussie advertisement from a few years ago.

Fast forward to, well, today!

My greatest concern has been realised, a mere 2 weeks and 5 days into fatherhood.  Yes, I’ve been ‘Number 3’d’ upon.

Perhaps it was just luck, but perhaps it’s a forewarning to my son’s future impeccable timing.  Our second mid-wife home visit, daddy’s wearing a freshly washed pair of his good shorts, that he only put on 20 minutes previously.  

Now, I knew there was something in the nappy,  however I was just biding my time hoping that the baby weighing would take place early on during the visit.  The mid-wife took a seat and started asking question – that I believe she would otherwise have known.

What’s the baby’s name?  What date was he born?

“Um, can we hurry up and get to the weighing” i was thinking to myself.

And then it happened.  That large vibration against your leg that you’ve come to expect.  But there was more too it.  Excessive heat on my fingers, the sound of liquid hitting the floor, the nurse looking on with a look of “I’ve seen this all before”, and my wife keeling over in hysterics.

Glad that one is out of the way!  My first number 3, documented for posterity.  Have you had your first number 3?  Remember it?

The “F” word

Jason, Amanda & I have been on a massive learning curve for the past couple of weeks.  I’ve learnt how to change my first nappies, pick up a baby, warm a bottle, work out that our second-hand pram is broken and order the new part to fix it (grrrr), and decipher baby expressions, such as “I’m hungry, please show me the food”, or “Take cover, Number 3’s are on their way”.  Likewise, Jason has learnt what he needs to do to get our attention, how to detect that a feed is in close proximity, and that the TV is a bright interesting thing that can potentially, later in life, be stared at for hours on end because it’s constantly changing.

We think we have an early crawler on our hands.  Now, I’m no expert on this subject matter, but when we have tummy time, little Jason twists and turns those hips and looks as if it’s only a matter of days before he rolls himself over.  The little legs look ready to do some crawling; unfortunately the upper half just won’t play the game – yet.

Tummy time with Jason
Tummy time with Jason

The marvellous part is Jason has no concept of the terms ‘failure’ or ‘giving up’.  He will try his little heart out until we either intervene or he physically cannot try any more.  When we, as “older people” give up, that is the point at which we fail, it’s not when we have tried once, three times, or even 100 times – it is that point in which we say “I give up” when we have officially ceased trying and have ‘failed’.  It’s no wonder that we learn so much when we are young, and progressively get worse at the art of learning the older we become, when we have learnt that it is often easier to simply give up..

At what point in time do we learn this nasty little skill of “giving-up”.  It is safe to say that it is not a part of our nature at birth, and this leaves this skill firmly in the nurture basket.  Is it a direct consequence of a parents impatience?  Do we encourage children to simply give up if they cannot master a life skill in x amounts of attempts?  Is it a result of people increasingly becoming time poor, and having less time in which to teach children the basics of life.  Can we blame the rising cost of living, with most families often not able to live off one income, hence children spend more time away from their parents, and around ‘Carers’ who are not necessarily interested in what our children learn, so long as they get paid at the end of the week?

This is an issue that I hope to grasp early on in this parenting experience that I am embarking on.  The world is full of challenges, experiences, hardships, and potential failures.  How do I teach Jason resilience, determination and the ability to remain inquisitive and interested in a world where the average person is inclined to give up more often that to succeed at something.

How do I keep Jason from being another Joe Average that spends hours each day in front of a TV or computer, and missing out on all of the marvellous experiences that are out there, just waiting to be discovered?  How do I teach Jason to continually try…. try…. and try again?

Running Scared

I’ve never been a great runner.  I could have been quite handy, but I’ve never really trained that passionately to be of much use as a specialist runner.  At school, I was full of fast-twitch.  I was the kid playing touch footy that the others couldn’t catch.  I remember clearly pulling off a double side-step on a good mate of mine, leaving him clutching at thin air and laughing about his inability to do anything to counteract my speed.

I tried my hand at Rugby Union, as all St. Eddies Boys do ( you know, the same school that has produced Ricky Stuart, George Gregan, Matt Giteau and the Fa’ingaa brothers).  I was great at scoring tries, when I wasn’t too scared to touch the ball.  The whole ‘body contact’ thing didn’t wash with me, and I don’t think I pulled off an effective tackle in my life.  The only reason that I was any good with the ball, was that I was too scared to be touched.  Made for some pretty interested facial expressions as I stepped, weaved and jumped through a defensive line with a sheer look of terror on my face.  “I’m gonna get creamed, I’m gonna have my head knocked off……. aarrgghhhh”.

Running in my adult years has switched me to a full on slow-twitch fibre machine, in a not-so-machine like kinda way.  I only really started running again as it’s a core discipline of Adventure Racing, for which I fell in love.  Needless to say, I’ve never run a Marathon, I’ve never even run a half-marathon, but I’ve run 120km through the Rub’ al Khali “Empty Quarter” desert in the UAE, I’ve run 80km down a beach on the West Coast of Tassie, because it was a part of an Adventure Race, adventure racing is my passion, and I run so that I can adventure race well.

Participating in the 2009 Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge, trekking through the Empty Quarter
Participating in the 2009 Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge, trekking through the Empty Quarter

But over the last year and a half, running and adventure racing (apart from organising events) haven’t played a huge part in my life, and I have felt that something big has been missing from my life that whole time, except for weight for which I acquired an additional 10kg or so.  Gradually, step-by-step, I am getting back into running, and last night fronted an advanced running group that was doing a 14km run along the beaches and trails around the foreshores of Port Macquarie.  I only made it 10.5km, but that’s up there with my bigger runs of recent times.  You think a lot when you run, and I thought about why I was doing this.  Was the pain worth it?  What was my motivation?  My motivation seems to have switched to Jason.  In the end, I know that maintaining a healthy lifestyle will benefit me most in the years ahead.  When Jason wants to play endless games of beach cricket and touch footy on the beach.  When Jason starts to outsprint me and I reflect back to this moment in time, right now, and wish that I had done more so that I can enjoy those times in the future.

A fitness regime, whether you have a goal or not, is important.  Many people work out with a goal in mind, and as soon as that goal is reached, they flick the off switch and all the benefit gains soon dissipate.  Taking that little bit of time out each day to work on yourself, to maintain your fitness, check your sanity is vitally important, particularly for people like myself who can easily get lost in the world of small business and now raising a family.

Running during the 2008 Land Rover G4 Challenge
Running during the 2008 Land Rover G4 Challenge

How are you maintaining your fitness? Or have you let yourself go?  It’s never too late, start walking, hop on your bike, step outside.  There’s a whole new exciting world waiting for you when you take those first little steps to a brighter, healthier, happier future.

R U OK? Today

A new blog – new beginnings

It’s time to write a blog!

I say that statement because, in the past, I’ve tried to write a few blogs, but after 1 post, the blog has jettisoned off to the outer reaches of Internet land, never to be seen, heard of, or thought about ever again.

Despite my background in IT, and over-zealous use of the internet on many occasions, I’ve never really understood what blogging was all about.  I’m eventually coming to the realisation that, it doesn’t really matter what it’s about.  If you’re passionate about something, good at something, or have something great to gloat about, then a blog is a great way to impart your wisdom, belief or expertise on others.

So why am I going to start this blog?  Well, I have a few ideas circulating in the grey matter at the moment:

  1. I’ve spent the past 4 years setting up a business so as to be able to provide for my family, with the idea of being a stay at home dad once I’ve had kids, and running the business, well, almost like a hobby.  The struggles of being a business director for a small business should provide for some interesting content matter.
  2. That “once I’ve had kids” part of point 1.  Well, that happened exactly 10 days ago.  Little Jason came into our world and yes, happy to announce, I have picked up those basic parenting skills of nappy changing, bathing, and laughing at the ridiculous noises and facial expressions that little Jason makes as he works those nappies over.  So perhaps another stay-at-home-dad blog wouldn’t be a bad thing, particularly from someone over 40 who never really believed he’d see the day when he had kids.
  3. I’ve been to the peak of my physical abilities, and back again, in the last several years.  I’m starting my journey back toward peak physical fitness yet again, but there is a long long way to go!  Blogging about it will provide a sense of purpose, and also a feeling that I’m being held accountable.  So follow me on this journey back to the land of never-ending endorphins and a flat tummy.
  4. This feels like a “coming-out” of sorts.  I’ve lived with anxiety for the past 16 years.  I’ll write more about this later, but I sure am keen to find out how I react personally to having a little one around all the time.  If nothing else, it’s my hope that I may give other sufferers of a mental illness hope, encouragement and the desire to lead a normal, happy and productive life.  There are a lot of us out there – but it’s not the end of the world.

Buckle up, enjoy the ride.  Contribute, interact and for God sake give me some hints from time to time. Every day from here on in is a massive learning experience.  Life is one big learning experience, and a great adventure.  I hope I cut it……

Navigating the murky waters of Stay-at-home fatherhood, work-from-home business, with a healthy dose of Fitness & Anxiety

Musings of a Father

Amazed Thoughts of a Dad

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Stay-at-home Parenting Done Dad's Way

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