Authors Posts by James Tew

James Tew

71 POSTS 0 COMMENTS

Our family tradition of watching movies together sees Frozen knocked off as number one

I’ve got mixed emotions. I can’t decide whether it’s a sad day or a happy one.

Frozen has been knocked off it’s throne as number watched movie. It’s replacement is:

We had a movie night on Saturday night, it was great. We threw a mattress on the floor, the kids brought out their blankets and we put on a movie that wasn’t Frozen! To say I was happy that Frozen wasn’t going to be on the TV would be an understatement. Popcorn was allocated, pop rocks distributed evenly and juice boxes were opened.

We all enjoyed it as we lay there and watched a stripe less Zebra on his quest for stripes. I think the kids enjoyed having Mum home at night for a change, normally a Saturday night is a work night for Christine. But that’s hospitality right?

These are the moments that count and they won’t last forever. We are lucky that at the moment, Miss 7 and Miss 2 like the same movies (most of the time) which means we can still have nights like last night. I don’t imagine it will last for too much longer as Miss 7 might want to start swapping animated movies for movies that fall in the Tween category (god help me if I have to watch Zac Efron tell me that we are all in this together).

No Zac, we’re not in this together.

I wrote a while ago about Family Traditions. This is one tradition that we love and man, we do it well.  I just wish my kids would stop fighting over who is going to be the bloody Zebra!

What are some of your most treasured family traditions? Christmas dinner, thanksgiving or maybe a simple Sunday roast with the family. Let me know in the comments below.

How did you get those bruises?

“I don’t know how I got this one!”

I think it’s time I put a stop to watching Arrow.

My wife is constantly covered in bruises and she claims she doesn’t know how it happens. I think she’s out on the mean streets of Canberra fighting crime. But a more likely story is that she’s just clumsy.

Normally when she starts acting ditzy, she’s pregnant but lucky this time she isn’t. I don’t think I could handle having 4 daughters in this house!

It’s a fun game really, “Where’d ya get that bruise?”

christine bruises

Because I care for my wife, I googled “how can I stop being so clumsy” in the hope that I can put an end to this madness.

Yahoo answers (like always) provided an ‘interesting’ answer. According to “Paul”, my wife could be clumsy because she can not see well. Paul, you might be on to something there mate because she struggles to see at night.

Now don’t go thinking, “James is so mean, he’s picking on his wife”, she told me to write about her bruises! Maybe she wanted me to write a post about her being clumsy to throw the police off her crime fighting vigilante scent.

I’m on to you Mrs Tew.

Either way, maybe it is time I start accepting the fact she might be making a few compensation claims against our insurance some time in the future.

 

Hey you! Want to join the Raising 3 Daughters family? Pop your email in here to receive weekly updates on posts and competitions!

 

4 course tapas meal for $62 | Siren Bar and Restaurant

I’ve had a really busy week! Let me tell you about it!

Between running social media coaching sessions, meeting with businesses about hosting events and catching up with new friends, it was great to be able to have lunch with Christine.

Arancini Balls from Siren Bar and Restaurant.

Arancini Balls from Siren Bar and Restaurant.

One problem we have found since arriving in Canberra is that a lot of restaurants don’t have high chairs. Not too much of an issue because we can bring a pram, but some places are tiny so a pram just gets in the way.

However, in our search we had heard that Siren Bar and Restaurant in Gungahlin had high chairs and did Tapas, our favourite kind of food. So today we took the rare opportunity to have lunch with only one of our three daughters.

Located on the corner of Gozzard St and Anthony Rolfe Ave, Siren’s has a large open plan dinning area with a large outdoor alfresco area for those Sunday sessions. If they were busy, parking would be at a premium so if you are planning on having a big night, maybe take a cab.

Today Siren’s wasn’t extremely busy. There were a few people enjoying a snack and a drink but we were the only people in the restaurant. Promptly seated and our order was taken, drinks were brought out and before you knew it, here was the Tapas.

We ordered;

Soft Shell Crab $16.90

Arancini Balls (Chorizo and Goats fetta) $14.90

Braised Pork Belly $14.90

Cajun Calamari $14.90

(You can see the full menu here)

The highlight for me (besides the impressive range of premium wines) was the soft shell crab! Large pieces of soft juicy crab meat with a light tempura batter which was then drizzled with sweet chilli sauce. It was delicious to say the least.

The Pork belly came out, crackle off and cold. I’ve never experience pork belly this way before and I wouldn’t say it is the best way to have your pork belly. Arancini balls were delicious with the Goats fetta providing a nice dressing to the Chorizo. Calamari was nice when accompanied with the Cajun dressing however there was a little too much parmesan cheese on a few pieces which spoilt the freshness of the squid.

As I briefly mentioned, Siren’s boasts an impressive wine collection which is on display just as you enter the dining area. With the most expensive bottle topping out at $470 a bottle (Jim Barry ‘The Armagh’ 2006 – Shiraz* Clare Valley S.A), you may want to opt for a cheaper selection such as the Katnook Founders Block – Cabernet Sauvignon coming in at $37 a bottle. soft shell crab from Siren Bar and Restaurant

The venue itself is impressive. Clean and modern, it would be great for an informal get together or like I said, a Sunday session in the Alfresco area. The bar has a great selection of beer and stocks most of the James Squires range.

All in all, Siren put on a decent feed for my wife and I although it wasn’t the best Tapas I have ever eaten. If I was scoring them purely on speed of service, they would receive a 10 but taking into account all aspects of the meal, I’ll give them a 6 out of 10.

To find out more about Siren Bar and Restaurant, you can visit their website here.

 

Want free stuff? Justice Professional Giveaway

Justice Professional loved my review of their products so much, they wanted to give one of my lucky readers over $65 worth of products!

Justice Professional Hair care products

Win WIn Win

Not sure if these products are any good? You can read my review of them here!

So how do you enter?

It’s simple! Leave a comment on this blog post telling me what is the worst hair related disaster you’ve ever had!

This competition will run from the 19th of Feb to the 26th of Feb and is only open to Australian residents. This competition will be judged by my wife, who is not easily amused with funny stories, so make them extra funny!

What is the worst hair related disaster you’ve ever had?

Why I Blog with Dai from daimanuel.com

After a break last week from the Why I Blog series, I’m back and with a cracker of an interview with Dai from daimanuel.com. Where do I start? Dai is a dad, a blogger, motivational speaker, athlete and when he isn’t flat out doing all that, he is the Chief Operating Officer at Fitness Town. So with all that out of the way, I’ll let Dai tell us a little bit more about himself and then dive into the interview!

The following exert is all about “My Why” – full story can be seen at http://www.daimanuel.com/about/

My passion is to engage and challenge people in living healthy, more active lifestyles.  With increasing obesity rates and a lack of focus and education on preventive medicine, our country is facing a health epidemic.  The solution starts with parents modeling a healthy active lifestyle for their children to follow.  Everyone needs inspiration to change and someone to hold them accountable to their fitness goals.  It’s my promise to offer inspiration, education, equipment and training – specifically supporting families – so that childhood obesity is no longer an issue in our country.

Dai, your blog is filled with all sorts of health related tips, workouts and stories about your 2 daughters, how did your blog come about and how long have you been blogging?

I’ve been blogging since 2008 on and off. What started as an accountability tool for myself to diarize my workouts and ventures into the world of CrossFit has morphed several times over the past 5 years. As someone who has been in the health and fitness industry for 16 years, I’ve dealt with many differnt types of people. Many of the questions I’ve been asked (and am still asked today) have been responded to in the form of blog posts.

The underlying messages of my blog is to promote the benefits of healthy lifestyles, smart nutrition, and being active (moving with purpose). I prefer to SHOW rather than TELL people what to do, and much of what I write about is based on personal happening that my family and I experience throughout the course of our daily lives.

As busy as life gets, we can all make better daily decisions as fathers, husbands, friends, mentors and/or role-models and lead a life full of family, fitness, and FUN!

You are speaking at the Dad 2.0 Summit, has your blogging career lead you to this speaking engagement and how would you suggest aspiring bloggers reach the same level of success you have had?

I’ve had a lot of different opportunities present themselves to me over the last few years. Some of these include interviews with the media, inviations to special events/trade shows and conferences as well as speaking engagements. I truly believe that its best to be transparent in your beliefs, share these substantiated beliefs with confidence on the topics that resonate with yourself and your audiences. If you do so, they will seek you out eventually as long as your information, opinions and personal beliefs offer value, inspiration and knowledge. You blog it, they will come. 😉

Have you learnt anything specific from blogging on daimanuel.com? 

Yes, I’m learning continuously. Like many great philsophers have said before, “there is no better way to learn than to teach” (Tweet this!).

Many of the topics I blog about are on subjects that I have gained knowledge about over the years as a father, husband and fitness professional and through sharing this knowledge I only further my own understanding of the topics. I love blogging and find it very therapeutic as one of my creative outlets. You have a niche that is in your “go zone”, share it! You’ll only further your specialization and become an sought out expert in your field.

Can you list 2 benefits to starting a blog?

Benefit 1. Creating a living, breathing diary of “me” – DaiManuel.com – something that I can be proud of and share with my children when they get older. They’ll be able to look back and get an in depth understanding of who their dad is.

Benefit 2. Borderless! I’ve always been a big believer in helping others, but was contrained geographically based on the areas I worked. With my blog I can now connect, network and help people in countries around the world – not to mention make some great lifelong friends along the way.

Dai, you’ve got a large amount of content on your site. Is there anything specific tools that you use for blogging? e.g. Evernote, notepad?

I leverage my time well with the use of a number of tools and services. I utilize Evernote to save cool ideas, facts, snippets and the like for future posts. I also utilize the features of a responsive layout to better provide content to a larger spectrum of browsers and electronic devices. Aweber has been my preferred email newsletter service provider, and there’s a number of widgets I’ve found that assist with layout and functionality improvements to my blog as well. When it comes to getting the content out there – of course, like many, I love HOOTSUITE!

Where can readers find you blog and how can they get in contact with you?

The advantage of having a unique name, “Dai Manuel”, is I’m very search engine friendly. Type it into any search engine and you’ll find that the bulk of the first few pages are typically to me. My blog URL is www.DaiManuel.com or www.MooseIsLoose.ca – I’m also on Twitter at @daimanuel and Facebook at facebook.com/mooseisloose.ca — always eager to chat to people about my passions, so don’t be a stranger!

Parenting Fail

I did something horrible.

Parents accidentally hurting their kids is a nightmare.

Bored? Play with your kids! [source: loldailyfun.com]

As parents, we never imagine hurting our children. The other day, I did it. I hurt our youngest daughter, Miss 1.

Miss 1 has been teething of late, poor girl. Between smacking her head on the coffee table whilst trying to walk and having a large amount of teeth coming through, she can’t seem to catch a break. When I was putting her in the high chair for dinner, she was wriggling, I pinched her with the clip (Also check the best foldable table for picnic and coffee).

Parenting Fail.

I don’t like hearing my daughters in pain on the best of days, let alone because I caused it!

In my opinion, having seen two children go through it, teething is up there on the pain scale. Some days it seems there is nothing that you can do that provides them relief. Enter Nurofen, which is exceptionally good for those teething symptoms, especially when a fever is present. No Nurofen? I’ve used a pack of frozen peas for relief before, that’s how much I hate seeing them in pain.

It must be hell (like watching the Young and the Restless) for our kids when their teeth are coming through. Let alone when their mean Daddy pinches them with a high chair clip.

I’m sorry.

I see it as sort of a right of passage for new parents. Obviously we do not intentionally hurt our kids, but there are times when it just happens and then we spend the next 30 minutes wondering why anyone let us leave the hospital with a human being.

I wonder all the time, “How did someone ever trust me to be a parent?”

Even though I have a 7, 2 and almost 1 year old, I still look for practical parenting tips on a regular basis. Not only does that give me inspiration for this blog, but makes me feel less like an idiot.

But the good thing, or the bad thing depending on which way you look at it, is that parents, mother-in-laws, grandparents and everyone else who has ever had kids, seem to have a never ending supply of advice when it comes to parenting.

Perks of parenting, eh?

While you are here, why not join the Raising3daughters family? I’ll send you a weekly update of posts and when I run a competition, you’ll be the first to know about it. 

I need Daddy

“I need Daddy!”

Three sweet little words that make my heart skip a beat. I love hearing them. Especially at bed time, when she is sleepy and all cute.

I used to spend so much time away from home, my relationship with my daughters were strong back then but no where as strong as they currently are. When we found out that Christine was having our second daughter, and our third daughter, naturally I began researching about raising girls. I had read that my influence in my daughters life will help shape her self-esteem, self-image, her confidence and her opinions of men.

I hope she dislikes all of you who seek to date her.

Apparently, the relationship we have with our daughters shapes their self-esteem, self image, confidence and opinions of men. I hope she is disgusted by them!

According to an article on the Australian, “A man’s best and worst traits will be represented in his daughter’s taste in men”. Well I’m up the creek without a paddle, mainly because I am perfect, just ask my mother-in-law.

In the same article, Annie Gurton, a counselling psychologist, claims that “women whose fathers have told them that they love them, that they are beautiful and wonderful, will have stronger, more robust self-esteem”.

I tell my girls that I love them and that they are beautiful, but when they fart like a miner, I tell them they stink! Does that mean I have ruined them?

It’s no mystery that men have been trying to understand women for many decades. Hell, I can never remember what Christine likes from Subway! When she orders something that doesn’t ring a bell, I need to stop in at woolies for a piss test to make sure number 4 isn’t on the way. If all this information is true, maybe we need to understand ourselves before we can understand our daughters. Again, I’m up the creek without a paddle because I’m a bloody basket case.

Changing careers

Changing careers can be difficult but can also be very rewarding

[source: www.business2community.com]

Finding a new job can be hard for some people. A while ago, I tried to change careers but I found it impossible to land a decent paying job that would support my family. Unfortunately, the ramblings of a little Australian Dad Blogger doesn’t make enough money to fill my car let alone support a family of 5!

Jobs in Australia  have been hard to come by in some particular fields. In my case, I didn’t have enough experience for an employer to hire me. I wanted to jump across the desk and tap them on the forehead, “how am I going to get experience if you don’t give me a chance mate!!”. Instead, I walked out, demoralised and wondering what I should do next.

Career changes are hard. It can be demoralising if your applications are constantly rejected but it can also be a very exciting time. One thing I found when I was considering a career change, I was scared. I had spent a decent amount of time in the military and that was all I knew.

“What if I get fired? How am I going to look after my family?”

Christine was just about to stop work and have our third daughter. I was scared that we would be stuck not able to pay rent, feed the kids and have to live in our cars. I had the comfort of a fortnightly pay check, a roof over our head and food on the table (also check the reviews on best folding table for picnic, meal and coffee). 

As a father and a husband, I feel it is my responsibility to look after my family and this added to the internal confusion that I was having. Should I go, should I stay, it was a battle in my head that was driving me insane.

What did I do?

I stayed. It wasn’t the right time for me to leave the military. I do have big dreams, some involve my current employment, others don’t. However, the experience has taught me a lot about looking for a new career. For example, in my search I discovered that 83% of jobs are never advertised online! I guess this is why everyone always says “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”.

Are you thinking about a career change? Have you recently changed careers? Let me know about it in the comments below.

An Australian Dad Blogger’s Day Dream List

Since Christmas, I’ve been really lucky to spend a lot of time at home. An incredibly welcomed change for my family in comparison to spending a lot of time working away from home. But one problem I’ve been facing lately is that I tend to day dream a bit. Whether it be about things I want to do or things I want to buy in the future. My wife is getting sick of it and often tells me to just stick to doing a couple of things and not get ahead of myself. Today, whilst day dreaming I thought, why not put a dream list down in a blog post so that at some point in the future I could look back on it and either laugh at myself or kick myself for not working hard enough towards it? So without further ado, here is ‘an Australian Dad Blogger’s day dream list’.

A Car.

A picture of the Jaguar XJ premium

The Jaguar XJ Premium model

I recently wrote a few posts about buying a new car and financing a new car but this is a dream, not sensibility. Before the other day, I had never really taken much interest in the Jaguar range, until I saw this bad boy.

Now I am not a man for a sports car, I’d prefer luxurious car, but when I drove past this car, it took my breath away. It screams luxury and coming in at over $210,000, you would expect nothing less.

A picture of the new 2014 Ford F250. An Aussie Daddy Bloggers dream car

The 2014 Ford F250

If you twisted my arm and forced me to choose another car (truck), give me an F250 any day! Why you ask? Why the hell not?! It’s big, unique and not many people in Australia have them! Either way, I won’t own either of these cars for a long long time.

A New Computer.

Attainable? Yes but can I afford it right now? No. I don’t want your regular run of the mill off the shelf computer. Oh no, I want a tricked out computer loaded full of software, maxed out with RAM and loaded with the best graphics card known to man kind. Again, why you ask? Because I can! Anyway, this is my party and I’ll dream if I want to! Before you pay at the checkout on Amazon, don’t forget to add this to your cart for me..

A Camera.

I don’t know what it is about filming but I have always wanted to be able to make a film that some one wants to watch (other than my family). So in my day dream, I own one of these, maybe even two for sh*ts and giggles.

Canon EOS-1D – Daddy’s day dreaming camera

 

Sure, I can just have a basic entry level camera but what is the point of dreaming if I don’t have the best. Don’t forget to add all the best accessories to accompany it! So in my dream, I want everything that I need to make a great short film. I don’t even know what I want to film yet, just that I enjoy doing it and would love to give it the good ol’ college try!

A House.

This is probably the first thing on most peoples dream list. For my dream house I’d like a big porch wrapped all around it and it to be on some decent land so when I feel like sitting outside naked, I can without being arrested.

An online career.

This is certainly attainable but in my dream, I am already incredibly successful online. Why? Having spent a fair bit of time at home recently, I know that I miss out on a fair bit when I am working away from home. My wife will probably say that working from home is a bad idea for me because the kids tend to gee me up when I am trying to work on the computer now. I’ll admit it, they do. But I’ve managed to work out a time when I can be on the computer and get some work done. Mainly at night when they are in bunk beds.

A full head of hair.

Comedian Rhys Darby

Are you a punk rocker? No just a stegosaurus..

Thanks Dad. This one is pretty self explanatory. I want to bring back the grass on these car parks and have a head full of luscious locks! Not only would I be the complete package but I could also save on sunscreen as I don’t need to lather my forehead in the stuff.

There you have it folks, a few things that I have been dreaming about lately. Sure, I could dream about having a billion dollars but where is the fun in having cash money? Want to buy any of this for me? I also accept donations if you pity me enough!

What have you been dreaming about? Tell me all about it in the comments!

[This was a sponsored post]

Financing your family car

You may have seen the last couple of posts I have written about buying a new family car. In this post, I am going to look at financing your family car.

A new car loan application form for financing you new family car

Financing your family car can be a mixed experience. [source: http://mannerlaw.com/2012/07/ftc-warns-of-car-loan-modification-scams/]

The next step for most people is finding a good finance deal that isn’t going to leave you flat broke. Some people may not be in the position to finance a new car, after all you don’t want to live on two minute noodles for the next 3 to 7 years!There are heaps of options when it comes to financing a car, car loan, secured personal loan, unsecured personal loan or you could even borrow off your mortgage.

I don’t want to be in debt forever (although with three daughters that means three weddings. I’m already broke forever), so I am going to have a look at a few different loan types and try and do my best at putting it in simple Dad language. Not that our language is different to any one else’s, just no bull crap finance terms!

Firstly, I’ll take look at car loans. At the moment, I am looking at Westralian Auto Finance. On the plus side, not only do they do offer car loans, they also offer business truck finance solutions for those business owners looking for a new vehicle. A car loan can be used for just that, a car,but there are a couple of different options when to comes to the car loan. You can either have a secured or unsecured car loan and I’ll try my best to explain those next.

A secured car loan is when you put the car up for collateral against the loan. This means if you can’t repay the loan because you’ve gone out and bought the newest iPad,well kiss that car bye bye. A plus side to this type of loan though, is that the interest rate tends to be a little lower. This is because the bank can take away your shiny new car if you fail to pay them. So just triple check that budget and make sure you can afford the repayments for the entirety of the loan.

An unsecured car loan doesn’t require you to use the car as security against the loan unlike the secured loan. You can expect, seeing as the bank can’t repossess your newest purchase, that the interest rate on this loan will typically be higher than a secured loan. Also, expect that the lender will ask for evidence that you can afford a new car. They will use this evidence to assess the risk of lending you money.

When I have purchased a car in the past, I have financed it using an unsecured personal loan. This allowed me to use a bit of extra money for some things, like furniture. Looking back on it, probably not the best move but everyone needs to learn a lesson at some point, don’t they?

Okay, we’ve figured out the different types of car loans, what’s next?

Well when we purchase our new car, we will be financing it. Yes, this is not an ideal situation however in order to pay it off quicker and get back on track with our goal of saving for a house, I wanted to look at ways to pay the loan out quicker.

(Please do not consider anything in this blog post as financial advice and it is important that you consider your own circumstances before making any decisions. Also, speak to your lender about any penalties that may be applied for paying off your loan early.)

A great way of paying your loan out quicker is to pay your loan repayments more frequently. By this I mean, paying repayments weekly or fortnightly instead of monthly. This will lower the amount of interested that is accumulated on the loan because your payment frequency is higher.

Pay extra. Duhhh James, I hear you saying, but how many of us practice what we preach? Especially when we could be out enjoying life! I try to pay an extra $10 each fortnight and when we can spare it, we will make an additional payment. Every little bit counts and you have to think long term here. Sure you are sacrificing play money but in the long run, you’ll most likely be better off financially.

Use additional money to make extra payments. Kids out grown some of their toys? Sell them on eBay! Got at a hobby? Maybe you like taking photos? Why not offer your services on the weekend for money towards the loan! What about that tax refund? Instead of spending it on a new TV or computer (like I do) pay extra on your car loan. You could shave months, if not a year, off your loan. Putting you that one step closer to debt free living!

Finance can be good and bad but as long as you don’t let money rule your life you should be okay! From our perspective, living debt free is a goal that we are striving to achieve! Well apart from owning a house…and paying for 3 university degrees…and 3 weddings…and 3 of everything else…

Have you had a bad experience with financing a car? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments below. Also if you have any other good tips on debt free living, share those too!

[This was a sponsored post]

Eat your bloody vegetables

I have vivid memories from when I was a kid, sitting at the dinner table and my sister balling her eyes out because she didn’t want to eat her pumpkin. I used to have chuckle because I wasn’t being yelled at for a change.

Fast forward 15 years and I am fighting the same battle with my own kids! 

Eddie Murphy in a broccoli suit.

A scene from one of my favourite movies, Daddy Day Care.

I’ll admit it, I love a pizza….. or two…. okay and some chicken wings. Food is my weakness, shut up!

But I also love eating healthy, when I can be bothered cooking and it’s not stinking bloody hot here in Canberra. My kids just love sticking it to me when it comes to eating healthy!

“I don’t like vegetables”

They’ll make you big and strong…

“I don’t like carrots!” 

You ate them yesterday…

“This tastes funny”

You ate the same thing last week and loved it…

“I wanted red rooster”

So did I but my metabolism isn’t as fast as yours and I’ll stack on 3 kilos thinking about it, thanks kids.

But I have to admit, I have had a win with apples. I cut the apples into “apple chips”. They love it but maybe it’s not the best idea naming something healthy after a food that will block their arteries and make them look like Honey Boo Boo. (If you don’t know who Honey Boo Boo is, save yourself and do not click this link!)

I just don’t know what else I can do, short of making them sit there all night and eating them. Sure I could hide the vegetables in their food but I will guarantee that they will sniff it out quicker than the drug dog that busted Schapelle Corby. I could make vegetable juice. They love juice but again I reckon they’ll figure out it is good for them and spit it back in my face. (Also check check the best folding table for picnic and family meals)

What’s next?

Do I give in? Do I let the little buggers win this round whilst I retreat licking my wounds and begin planning the next round? I don’t know. I guess I’ll just tough it out, shove a few pureed veges in here and there and hope for the best, well either that or I’ll turn into a vego and they’ll have to eat vegetables. I can’t back that up, I’ll never give up meat.

How do you get your kids to eat their vegetables? Share your magic formula and I’ll send you a lettuce. Only kidding, I don’t buy lettuce. My kids don’t eat it!

I hate doing the dishes

There I said it.

Show me one person that enjoys doing the washing up and I’ll stop whinging.

Get a dishwasher!

We had a dish washer and we didn’t like it. I always found that the dishes wouldn’t come out washed as well as doing it by hand.

Maybe I just needed to use some better detergent? Maybe I needed a better quality dishwasher? Maybe I was loading it wrong? Maybe I should just throw out the china and replace it with paper plates (every parents dream!)

But I am looking at dishwashers on the Good Guys website. They range from $399 to $2,167 so what level do I go for?

One thing I found with our last dishwasher was that we always had to use dishwasher cleaner other wise it started to stink! We came to the conclusion that this was because we weren’t rinsing our dishes first.

So having said all this, when Finish Australia wanted to work with me on this post, I jumped at the opportunity to see if it was really worth buying a dish washer and using their products.

I guess I am just hoping to can free up more time to blog.. or make the dishes easier so my kids can take over!

To help me write this post, I borrowed a friends dishwasher. But before we washed any of the dishes, we had to make a mess, enter Mexican Night. We all brought plates, covered in Mexican style food goodness, cheese melted on to plates, salsa sauce everywhere.

So we made our mess and loaded the dish washer. Quantum dishwasher tablets, the ones with the little red balls in the middle, are designed to give you an amazing clean and shine every time you use it.

They worked well, in fact, really well. The sticky cheese and salsa was gone, without rinsing! That’s what I like to see. But what about all the left over food that is sitting at the bottom of the dishwasher?

No need to worry about manually cleaning, Finish has a product for that!

As the product page says, just because it looks clean, doesn’t mean it is clean. The dishwasher cleaner targets those places that are hidden from view. So how often do you run the cleaner?

I guess that depends on your usage. We are a family of 5 so we have lots of dishes meaning that we probably need to clean it more often that a family of 2 or 3. So I believe it is situational and how often you use it.

Do you use a dishwasher? or do you prefer to wash your dishes by hand? or maybe you make your kids do the dishes?

Want to win a packet of Quantum Dishwasher tablets? Simply leave a comment below telling me how much you hate doing the dishes and the funniest one will win! Competition is open to Australian residents only and will be drawn one week from date of publishing.

(This was a sponsored post)

[Part One] Buying the perfect family car

This is a two part series, the first of which I will have a look at factors affecting purchasing a car for your family and the second will examine several options that fit the bill.

A picture of a family buying a new car

Buying a new family car is a big task. Lots of different factors to consider. [source: dreamstime.com]

In Australia, there are currently 6 million families with school aged children. Families need to get to places therefore, they need a car. At the moment, we are a two car family however Christine’s car has been riddled with problems and it’s worth two fifths of stuff all, so there isn’t any reason to fix it.

As some people would put it, I drive a woman’s car.  I bought my Ford from John Hughes in Perth, (second hand, which would normally mean it would be a horrible experience) however, it was actually an amazing buying experience. Not only was the buying experience awesome, but so is the Focus. It is small and with three growing girls, it won’t be long before we need a larger car.

Picture this.

You decide to not once, not twice, but three times drive across the country in a car that is made for midgets. Not only is it tiny and when you have 5 people in it, it’s insanely tight and the close proximity of three girls who love to have a whinge (more than the English cricket team), it well…  it drives you up the wall.

So why not sell “Fanny Focus” and buy a bigger car? Good point, except I still owe money on it and we are not in the position to borrow money for a car just yet. Why doesn’t Christine drive it then? Well good citizen, she is as stubborn as a rock and refuses to learn how to drive a manual. Many an argument has been had over this topic. She always wins.

Okay, so what makes a perfect family car then James?

Well first off, it needs to be practical. Practical enough that I can take a sleeping bag and sleep in it if the kids drive me up the wall, or if I’m in the doghouse! I’ve never wanted a family van before, until recently when we hired a Kia Grand Carnival. We had 5 adults and three kids in it and we still had enough room to kick the footy. It’s huge! Drives like a bus but it sat beautifully on the road and was comfortable.

So we’ve got practical as the first requirement. Next in my list of requirements is, budget friendly. Like a lot of families, we are a one income family so we can’t afford to spend $90,000 on a Land Cruiser. I’m not talking just budget friendly in the price tag, but in fuel consumption and service costs as well. Last thing we need is to have a beautiful new car and no money to fill the bugger up!

Practical, budget friendly are the first two requirements in my list and for the third I am going to say, future proof. By future proof I mean that if you choose to/accidentally have more kids in the future, there is room or if you are playing car pool, you can fit other brats in the car. Also, if your kids are getting close to that age where you’ll have the lovely experience of teaching them how to drive, you want a car that is going to be good for them to learn in.

– Practical,

– Budget friendly, and

– Future proof.

As a family man, safety is top priority. So when looking for a suitable family car, a good safety rating is a must. Here in Australia, we use the ANCAP (Australiasian New Car Assessment Program) ratingwhich is determined by an independent vehicle safety advocate. Boldly on their website, ANCAP states “ANCAP recommends 5 star rated vehicles. Accept nothing less”. So I’m going to add the ANCAP safety rating as one of my requirements because when it comes to those little devils, you can never be too safe.

– Practical,

– Budget friendly,

– Future proof, and,

– 5 star ANCAP safety rating.

With these four requirements I am going to begin my search! But before I do, these are a few nice ‘must haves’ in my opinion.

– Cruise control,

– Tow ball,

– Bluetooth, and,

– A proper spare tyre not a space saver.

Now, I also asked my Twitter followers the following question to see if they had similar views when buying a car as me.

 

A couple of my wonderful followers took some time out to answer the question, some seriously and some not so much. Amongst their answers were, bullet proof panels (never know when you’ll find yourself in the hood having a shoot out), boot size (for stuffing bodies in from said shoot out), how easy it is to get the kids in/out and how easy it is getting a double pram in and out (won’t need this when you’re in a shoot out). All relevant answers in my opinion, especially the bullet proof panels! You never know what’ll happen in the future or in the hood.

Everyone is going to have their own requirements when buying a car and that is dependent on their family situation. Obviously a single bloke like Justin Bieber could drive a lambo, hopefully whilst not hyped up on cough syrup.Where as a the Brady bunch would probably need a 12 seater bus. So don’t take my requirements as gospel, adjust them as you see fit to your family’s situation.

But come back next week, where I’ll examine a few cars that I think will fit the bill (for my family) and tick all my boxes . In the mean time, I’d love it if you would sign up to join the Raising3daughters.com family where you’ll receive emails from me each week detailing my top posts and in the future, I’ll work to bring you exclusive content and giveaways.

You can sign up here!

What is something you look for when buying a new car? Let me know in the comments below!

Why I Blog with Jim from busydadblog.com

Why I Blog continues this week with Jim from Busy Dad Blog. Jim has been blogging for over five years and is one of the most experienced Dad Bloggers kicking around the internet. Let’s get going with the interview, but first, a little about Jim.

Jim Lin is a digital strategist by day and a dad blogger by whenever-he-finds-the-time. To the outside world, his blog is a repository of lighthearted parenting adventures; to Jim, it is a roadmap that helps him piece together where he’s been the past few days, when he suddenly wakes up drooling and disoriented in the office. He enjoys parenting, Scotch and training Muay Thai, all of which explain the above.

Jim, how long have you been blogging?

I’ve been blogging 5 and a half years. Like Yoda in internet years, equivalent that is.

How did you learn to blog and why did you start your blog?

I started my blog because I had a 4 hour round trip train commute to and from work. I tend to fall asleep when I read, which isn’t the best state of being when you’re riding the LA Metro, so I blogged to stay awake and alive. I chose to blog about my adventures as a dad because social media didn’t really exist back then and I needed an outlet to share 500,000 pictures of my kid and me building Legos. Prior to starting my blog, I had never read one, so I really learned by doing. When your only reader is your mom, anything you put out there about her cute grandson will of course be awesome.

Have you learnt anything specific from blogging?

I’ve learned that the internet is at once wonderful and horrible, so it’s best to stay open to opportunities but grow a thick skin. Remember folks, when you close that laptop, the internet stops existing. That’s the best part about it.

List 2 benefits you can see from starting a blog?

1) Connections: the best thing about the internet is that you can find all kinds of people on it (in fact, I met my girlfriend because of blogging – that’s kind of like the mother of all connections). I was the only guy in my social group with kids, so I didn’t have a peer network of people who could relate to that part of my life. Blogging enabled me to meet other folks who could relate to the day to day challenges, chuckles and triumphs that can only be had when you are physically, fiscally and emotionally responsible for other miniature human beings.

2) Voice: When you make connections, you find your voice. Having a voice and being able to “field test” it with an audience is one of the most satisfying things in the world. Face it, we ALL want to be heard. Having a blog gave me an avenue through which to achieve that. Of course there’s social media now, so you kids have it easy.

Do you have any specific tools that you use for blogging? i.e. plugins, evernote?

None whatsoever. I’m a very freestyle (read: lazy) blogger. I write what I feel like, when I feel like it… unless it’s part of a sponsored campaign or series, in which case I do some of my best and most timely work (hey, it’s beer money and I take it dead serious).  I use Evernote to organize absolutely everything in my life, but I actually use it very little for blogging.

Where can readers find you blog and how can they get in contact with you?

My blog is at: www.BusyDadBlog.com, you can email me at jim@busydadblog.com, and I’m most accessible via tweet at @busydadblog

My top ten reasons why I love being a parent…

Babe, if you get up, I’ll let you sleep in”

1:30 am

I roll out of the bunk beds (1st floor of course) because apparantely a cat nap is all our youngest daughter needs tonight, plus who can resist a sleep in?

I get her up, 10 minutes and she’ll be ready to go back to sleep.

2:07 am

I put her down, tantrum. Bugger.

2:30 am

Why don’t I write a sarcastic blog post about the top 10 things I love about being a parent?

1. As a parent, I can play games with my kids at 2 am.

2. No matter how hungover I am, my kids love me enough to wake me up at 6 am.

3. If my kids shit their pants, I am privileged enough to clean it up.

4. Even if the best football game in the world is on TV, I don’t get to watch it. Instead, I watch Peppa Pig.

5. I no longer have to take a dump alone.

6. When I buy an ice cream, I no longer get to eat it all by myself, I get to share it. With three other people, who have already eaten their ice creams.

7. I can no longer spend any more time than it takes to eat a meal at any restaurant or pub. Upon completion of said meal, we get to leave, ASAP.

8. I know every word of the following movies:

– Despicable Me 2,

– Despicable Me,

– Finding Nemo,

– Frozen,

– Smurfs 2,

– Smurfs 1,

– The Lion King, and

– Tangled.

9. I get to buy a loaf of bread and 3 litres of milk at least 4 times a week, and last but certainly not least,

10. I no longer have any time or money to spend on a hobby such as golf. Instead, I blog about how much I love my kids at 2:30 am.

So there is 10 reasons why I love being a parent. What’s yours? Leave a comment below!

Why I Blog with Tom from ideas4dads.net

Here comes another instalment of the “Why I Blog” series where each week I sit down with a different Dad Blogger to find out how they got started, what they’ve learnt from blogging and whether they have any special tools that can help you become a better blogger. This week, I sit down with Tom from ideas4dads.net, but I won’t take up any more of your time, here is a little bit about Tom!

I am a 35 year old chap whose life just over three and a half years ago changed forever – I became a Dad!

Parenting for me is the final frontier in terms of the life challenges and the one that I really want to succeed at above all others. I am married to my beautiful, supportive (and very patient) wife High Command, and together with our 6 year old chocolate labrador called Millie who is as mad as a box of frogs, I am also the proud owner of two daughters No 1 aka Trumpet (aged 3 and a half) and No 3 aka Digger (aged 1 and a half) with the final addition, No3 aka Tilly, due in March of next year……….so to say I have my hands full would be an understatement.

Tom, how long have you been blogging?

I first set up my blog 2 years ago after my second daughter was born on wordpress.com. I got it up and running and wrote a couple of posts but at the time my heart wasnt in it.

Fast forward 18-months and I revisited and thought I’m going to give this another go and set up a self hosted wordpress blog last September and the rest as they say is history.

How (i.e a friend showed you how) and why did you start your blog?

I set up the blog myself and with the great telephone support from GoDaddy hosting.

I decided to start the blog to share some of the helpful hints and tips I had picked over the past couple of years on my quest to be the best parent I can be.

In doing this I hope that it will provide dads with lots of ideas and tips on how to make the most of their time with their kids. Because as we hear time and again ‘they grow up quick’ and parenting, just like life, isnt a dress rehearsal.

Have you learnt anything specific from blogging?

Its been great fun.

Very cathartic. Have learnt lots of geeky stuff about websites (not that I have to need to know it but rather I find exploring that sort of thing fun).

But by far and away the best thing I have learnt are lots of useful tips from other bloggers on how to be a better parent.

List 2 benefits you can see from starting a blog?

– a hobby to help you switch off from work and benefit your family

– embracing something that encourages you to reflect on yourself as a parent and steps you can take to improve

Do you have any specific tools that you use for blogging? i.e. plugins?

– I would be lost without my Android WordPress app which allows me to write posts and manage my blog using my Smart Phone or Tablet

Justunfollow is a great app for managing and expanding my twitter followers

– Would be lost without my Hootsuite app to schedule and manage my social posts.

Where can readers find you blog and how can they get in contact with you?

Come on over and have a look at my blog at www.ideas4dads.net and if you like it please leave a comment

You can also find me on twitter @Ideas4Dads

I’m excited by…

Poo!

No, I’m not some sort of sick, perverted idiot! I am excited because Miss 2 is finally starting to get the toilet training idea so much so we’ve hit the dizzy heights of number 2’s!

The whole toilet training thing was getting me down and I was frustrated that she wouldn’t get it. But just as quickly as she was conceived, click, she had it. It was almost like she enjoyed watching her mother and I get frustrated with constantly cleaning up piss on our white carpet (seriously who has white carpet in a rental!).

I’ve never toilet trained a child before. It baffles me that something most of us take for granted, (well most of the time unless you drunk) could be difficult to master but I guess for a child everything is new.

When we first started trying to toilet train, I kept looking at Christine like she was bonkers. “Miss 2, do you need the toilet?” 15 minutes later, “Miss 2, do you need the toilet?”. It sounded like a broken record but apparently it worked and she got it, finally.

But back to my original topic, why am I so excited about sh*t? Because if she’s doing number 2’s that means that there is limited number of days remaining that I need to fork out $29.99 each week for a disposable poo catcher!

Seriously, I need to start making nappies or become a wedding photographer, two of the biggest rip offs in the history of man kind.

Want to join the Raising3daughter.com family? Just pop your email address in this little box below you pretty thing!

Back to School

Back to school post

I am a little excited for this year when 2 of my three daughters head to school. What excites me more is saving money! So I am on the look out for some great back to school savings!

This year my “wonderful” almost three year old will be heading to three year old Kindy. I am really excited for her to start learning as she is a really smart kid (sometimes to smart for her own good!).

Miss 7 will be heading back to her new school that she started last year, Saint John the Apostle here in Canberra. We recently changed from being a public school family to a private school family but that is a whole other post, one that will be extremely long!

Not only are two of our daughters heading back to school but so am I! That’s right kids, Daddy is heading back to school as well. I’ll be heading to university full time for the next three years to read for my Bachelors degree.

But wait there’s more!

Christine is also heading back to school! I can just picture it now, massive homework sessions at the cheap vanity table! So out of the 5 people in our household, 4 will be students this year! So with 4 students in our household, our stationery bill is going to be through the roof. I’ve been looking through the back to school specials and one of them caught my eye, eBay’s up to 50% off Back to School sale! Also check the reviews on best folding picnic table, which is very portable and can be used for picnic, meal and coffee.

I’m not a huge eBay shopper, apart from a few things that I can’t find anywhere else, but with 108 ball point pens for only $19.49, who can refuse that! That spells bargain in any language!

Some other great savings I found on eBay:

– Faber Castell 48 classic pencils only $22.39 (Free postage) Save $7.60!

– Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Tablet only $519 (Free postage) Save $410!

– ROC Leather Shoes only $74.90 (Free postage) Save $25.05

So as you can see there are some deals to be had in some unconventional places when purchasing your back to school supplies!

(Links in this post are affiliate links)

Got any money saving tips when buying back to school supplies? Please share them below in the comments section! 

We’re doomed

As the title suggests, we’re doomed. No not everyone, just everyone in my house.

Why?

Taking some of her first steps towards independence!

Taking some of her first steps towards independence!

Our youngest daughter officially took her first steps yesterday. I thought I had learnt with Miss 2, don’t push them to be fast learners, you’ll only regret it, I told myself. So I took a back seat and didn’t encourage her that much. But like any competitive parent, I want her to be the best and the fastest. It will be my downfall I swear!

But yesterday she did it, all by herself, a couple of steps.

What I am not looking forward to is the following;

– Opening kitchen cupboards and pulling everything out,

– Throwing a tantrum at the shops because she is now an independent girl and needs to walk every where,

– Running away from me at the shops after said tantrum,

– Scaring me at parks and other public places by running towards dangerous situations (e.g. behind swings), and,

– Climbing out of her cot and running around her room, periodically banging on the door keeping her two sisters awake.

Having just said all that, I am really excited that she is beginning the next stage of her development. I would just prefer it if she chooses to sit still, not run away and not test my patience in any of the scenarios I mentioned before.

Did you push your kids to walk as soon as possible? Did you regret it? Leave a comment below! 

Not a member of the Raising3daughters.com family? Just pop your email in the box below!

I’m Married! Our Margaret River Wedding

This is a sponsored post by:

Xanadu Winery logo

So the date of 23rd of November 2013 will forever be my anniversary. It was a magical day, something both Christine and I had been looking forward to for so long, 3 years to be exact! Getting married is something that I never thought I would do. Why? I don’t know, it is just something that had never crossed my mind before I met Christine.

A picture of Xanadu Winery in Margaret River Western Australia

The view of Xanadu restaurant [source: Xanadu Winery]

Our Margaret River wedding was held at the beautiful Xanadu Winery. The winery boasts a list of awards that would rival your weekly shopping list, amongst them, Australia’s Best Wine for 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon in the category of Best Mature Dry Red. Not into award winning reds? Not to panic as their Chardonnay also is award winning!

(Make sure you read on to find out how you can win a bottle of Xanadu Chardonnay)

To accompany the wine, the restaurant is also an award winning dining experience which has a focus on local and fresh produce from the Margaret River region.

We didn’t know of Xanadu’s successes before we showed up to meet the function manager. We instantly fell in love with the place, the stone walls, the green grass and the trees overlapping the walk way makes it an unbelievable location for any wedding.

 

My beautiful bride in the picturesque Xanadu Winery walk way [source: Raw Nature Photography]

The day couldn’t have gone any better. They say if it rains on your wedding day that it is good luck, well to a bride it isn’t and thankfully the rain held off long enough for us to be married in front of our closest family and friends. But I can say, I have never been that nervous in my entire life.Sure I was marrying the woman I had been engaged to for the last 3 years but it was the build up! 3 years waiting for one day can do that to the bravest of men! Not to worry, a few glasses of white will cure those nerves or at least I thought they would.

We wanted to involve our daughters as much as possible, as you probably know, they mean more than the world itself to us! They looked stunning as Christine’s little flower girls, throwing flowers from a local florist.

It was important for us to try and organise as much as possible from local suppliers as we were travelling from Canberra. Christine did a great job of finding the best products and everything looked beautiful. My favourite part though, the lawn games!

 

Our family set this game of scrabble up before we arrived [source: Raw Nature Photography]

Accompanying the giant scrabble board, we also hired a giant game of Jenga, totem tennis and bocce balls to entertain our guests whilst we departed for photos with the bridal party. This was one of the many highlights of our wedding according to our guests who were entertained by the fabulous Xanadu staff in their pristine gardens. How many times have you been to a wedding where you are standing around waiting for the bridal party to finish photos?!?Finishing our photos, it was time to party. Everyone was seated and waiting for us and our great friend, who was MC, was keeping everyone entertained along with our DJ. The atmosphere was electric and everyone was buzzing (probably because of the quality of booze!). The quality of the food was that of an award winning restaurant and it exceeded our, and our guests, expectations. The wait staff were exceptional with keeping the drinks full all night and bringing the food out in a timely manner so we could all relax and enjoy the rest of the night.

All in all, it was the time of our lives but it wouldn’t have been the same without our wonderful friends and family. A special mention to all of the wonderful people who helped us with their products/services (you can find a detailed list at the bottom of this post). Would I recommend Xanadu winery for your wedding? HELL YES!!! Want to know more about getting married at Xanadu? You can contact Sarah (Hospitality and Tourism Manager) here!

 

Most of all thanks to our wonderful bridal party! [source: Raw Nature Photography]

Want to win a bottle of Xanadu Chardonnay? Simply enter below!

By entering this competition you are confirming that you are above 18 years old. Competition open to Australian Residents only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Who did we use:

Xanadu Winery: Sarah Beresford

Raw Nature Photography: Claire Walker

Bespoke Flowers: Tracey Finney

Vintage Dreams: Katie (Lawn Games)

DJ Damo: Damien