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!

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)

Why I blog with Mike Cbay of YDad

Keeping up with the weekly Why I Blog post, this week Mike from YDad joins me. Mike is an 80s-born dad with two young sons based in Sydney, Australia. A massive fan of turntablism, family wagons and coffee, Mike is also a fellow Aussie Daddy Blogger and an all round top guy. Let’s get into the interview!

How long have you been blogging?

I’ve been dabbling in blogging for a few years, starting with a music-related blog (I was somewhat of a DJ in my past). However, I changed my blogging focus from music to my experiences as a dad just before the birth of my second son.

How and why did you start your blog?

I was mentally preparing myself for my second son’s birth, and wrote down what I was thinking and feeling at the time. What I came up was a little piece that turned out to be self-reflective: I gave advice to my past self, about becoming a dad. I saw value in sharing it for those who may be going through the same thing.

Have you learnt anything specific from blogging? 

I’ve learnt that blogging requires a higher level of planning and strategy – not just to grow but also to maintain your readership. It’s also something that can push you and keep you on your toes, mentally speaking.

A great piece of blogging advice that was passed down to me in terms of dealing with brands is to never compromise your personal ‘voice’; if a brand wants to work with you, then they already know what they’re in for.

List 2 benefits you can see from starting a blog?

– I believe a blog is a great self reflection tool, and there’s a certain freedom that it brings.

– Blogging is an excellent way to exercise your creative brain-muscles as it doesn’t only have to be based solely on written work. You can incorporate graphic design, photography and video to tell your story.

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

This is an area I’m currently exploring to try get the most out of blogging. WordPress SEO by Yoast is what I can recommend from my experience. I recently stumbled upon a web service called Dashfolio that connects to your Google Analytics account which I’m in the process of sussing out.

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

You can find YDad at ydad.com.au and facebook.com/YDadAU, and also on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest as @mikecbay.

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. 

[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!

Max Brenner Belconnen

What do you do when you need to go to Coles after dinner?

Take the whole family to Max Brenner in Belconnen and fill them full of chocolate of course!

The family at Max Brenner

Now I hear you saying, why so silly James? I know, I know, but we thought it was time for a treat with our girls. So we loaded on up and headed out to the shops and up to Max Brenner for a spot of dessert.

However.

cookie masterpiece At 7:22 pm I ordered a toffee choctail, two make your own cookies and waffle sundae. I reckon there was 5 tables and 4 staff members on and yet we had to wait over 30 minutes to receive our order! For a long time, the make your own cookies were sitting on the serving bench with the drink waiting for the sundae to be finished.

After a while (yeah I’m that guy), I went to the bench and asked if the kids can have their dessert. You know how kids get, the excitement overcomes them and we struggle to keep them under control.

Finally, old mate brings the cookies and drink, slaps them willy nilly on the table, not in front of the kids who were waiting for them and storms off. Shortly after, a repeat when it comes to the sundae, she slapped it on the table love and ran off. (Also check check the reviews on best folding picnic table)

kids and their cookiesTo say I was pissed off would be an accurate assumption.

Struggling to contain my temper, the manager must have picked up on the vibes. He came over, apologised profusely about the wait and the staff then he offered some extra decorations (more chocolate) for the kids cookies.

Well played Sir. tahnee cookie

The sundae, my choice of dessert was delicious. Banana, waffle, caramel, chocolate and some nut like chocolate balls. It was rich and sickly but delicious at the same time.

What would I give Max Brennen in Belconnen out of 3 sugar high kids? If the manager hadn’t of taken the time out of his day to apologise and offer some compensation? I’d give them a 1 out of 3 sugar high kids but the fact that he cared and apologised, I’ll give them a 2 out of 3.

Would I go back? Expensive, long waits and with impolite staff members, I don’t think I would go out of my way.

 

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.

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

My Life of Dad experience

If you haven’t listened to it yet, shame on you! But here is the link!

 Listen to me!

aftershow I was recently on the Life of Dad After Show podcast with Art and Ryan from Life of Dad. Man was it cool.

It all started a while ago when I had heard about the after show on a live Google Hangout that Tommy Riles (another amazing guy) hosted (which I can’t find anywhere!!). I immediately opened iTunes and had a listen.

I was hooked and I let them know about it.

Art and Ryan have this chemistry that just kept me wanting more. Another episode down and after a while I decided, hey! I’ll join the Life of Dad network.

I did exactly that.

The first post I wrote on Life of Dad was called “Dadstruck”. I wrote it because it was almost like I had been welcomed into a long lost brotherhood. I could relate to what most people were saying, enjoy the jokes and even join in on the conversations.

But the reason I called it “Dadstruck” was because I had been listening and reading all this content from these great guys and then all of a sudden it was like I was one of them. It was and still is a great honour.

So I told Art and Ryan how much I loved their podcast and Art invited me on the show! I was stoked. I couldn’t tell my wife enough about it.

The day came. I f**ked up the time. Little did I know when we arranged the time, EST was not on daylight savings. Fast forward a month, it’s day light savings in the states.

So here I am, eagerly waiting for 11:30 to come. “Art should call me any minute now…”. 11:34 “Surely he hasn’t forgotten, we spoke this morning…”. 11:40 I send Art a message after figuring out that they had just kicked over to daylight savings, “Hey mate, is it 8:40pm there”. “Yep, still good for 9:30?” which was 12:30pm our time..

Idiot.

I was okay with it, but it was going to be tight. I had an Information systems lecture to get to at 1:40 and the podcast usually goes for 30-45 minutes plus I needed to add on 25 minutes travel time.

I’ll be right, I told myself.

12:30 on the dot, Skype calls. It’s always awkward when you speak with someone you don’t know for the first time. Especially when you sort of “know” them from having read a lot of posts and listened to them on podcasts.

But to me, it felt like we had known each other for a long time. Art, Ryan and myself chatted for a bit, went through some details and it was on to the podcast.

The rest they say is history.

I’ve written before how many great opportunities Dad blogging has given me. I’ve met a huge amount of great people, some I’ve been lucky enough to interview in my “Why I Blog” series. But it’s also given me the confidence to strike up conversations with random people about anything.

Don’t ask me how but it has.

So if you haven’t listened to the podcast yet, do it now! Plus while your at it, go and show the guys at Life of Dad a bit of love especially Art and Ryan. Those are two top blokes and guys, if you’re ever in Australia, my house is your house!

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.

Get off your phones (my goal for 2015)

source: http://uvamagazine.org/images/uploads/2011/winter/feature_essays_2015.gif

I am the worst for this. I admit it.

As I looked around the park this morning, 6 out of 7 parents were on a smart device.

Like I said in the first line, I’m pretty bad for this but today I made an effort to keep my phone in my pocket except for snapping a pic or two.

We’re not the most active family, I blame that on both the wife and I working full time, the fact we have a one year old that goes to bed at 18:30 every night and also, when I do take my kids out, they never bloody listen to me and I end up coming home pissed off.

But today, I’m making a promise.

A promise to my kids that this coming year, I am going to make more of an effort to be present when we’re at home and at the park.

Being present in their lives is one of my goals in life. I’m trying to start an online business so that I can spend more time with them however in the process, I’m spending less time with them.

What’s the answer?

I don’t know. I honestly don’t however, I do know this, moving forward, I’m making a goal to be on my smart device less when the kids are awake. I’m making an effort to get them outside every day for at least 60 minutes of play. I’m going to cook healthier meals, tastier meals that makes them want to eat better and finally, I’ll keep taking them to the gym with me. Taking them to the gym, they see me working out, being healthy and as a role model to them, that’s something I need to keep doing.

So screw new years resolutions, nobody sticks to them anyway.

This is my parenting goal for 2015, what’s yours?

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! 

Shopping with kids

Normally, we try to avoid doing food shopping with kids at all costs. It’s a predictable routine:

“I need lollies!”

“I need the toilet”

“Can I have this?”

“You never buy me anything!”

“Miss 2 got something yesterday!”

“Are we done yet?”

“I don’t want vegetables for dinner!”

Today started off a little different. We picked Miss 2 up from 3 year old kindy and headed to Coles to get some food shopping done. She was tired which lead me into a false sense of security. “She won’t be an issue” I told myself and in the beginning when she wanted to sit in the trolley, I thought I was on to a winner.

Then this happened.

shopping with kids edited

Add a new item to the trolley, she’d lay on it. Using the toilet paper as a solid bed base, she actually looked quite comfortable.

When asked “do you want to get out and walk now?” “Not yet. 2 minutes okay?”. That the favourite response this month.

But then we met up with a family member who is in Canberra for work at the moment and decided to get a coffee. All well and good until “I need the toilet”. Okay, trip number one. 5 minutes later, “I need the toilet!”. Again? Okay let’s go.

You know what they say about three’s

“I need the toilet!”. No you don’t but by that stage she was off and running down the hall to the parent room. I think it was the fact that she got to press the green button to open the door because her bladder sure as hell isn’t that small.

Moral of the story.

No matter how good you think your shopping experience will be with kids, it will never be as good as being by yourself! I’ll be avoiding shopping with kids from this day forth. (Also check my reviews on best kids outdoor playhouse).

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]

DIY? More like HSE

It’s no secret to friends and family that I am the worlds worst DIY specialist. I consider myself to be more of a HSE (hire someone else) kind of guy.

Recently, my wife has found herself in an incredibly demanding role at work. So while she’s off slaving away, lining peoples pockets with extra cash, I’m the stay at home Dad.

While I am studying full time, my work load is considerably less than hers so majority of the time I’m responsible for the day-to-day cleaning and finding a fix for anything that is broken.

We’re in a rental so we’re always having things go wrong. But all I can say is, thank god for Google.

Leaking showers in Sydney? No worries call Megasealed.

Hole in the wall in Perth? Call a friend who knows how to fix it.

Stains on carpet in Canberra? Call the carpet cleaners.

Google can help everyone and anyone who is a HSE no matter where you are.

Yeah alright, I know that I should know how to fix all of this stuff, but I don’t. Sure I could go forth and learn how to but at the moment, I don’t have the time and I don’t want to break this house even more!

Anyway, how does one become good at DIY?

Is it something that you’re brought up with? My Dad wasn’t the most handy of handy men either. Sure he taught me how to mow the lawn, change a tyre and check the oil, but we were lucky enough to be able to afford to hire people.

Being the Dad to three girls, I’m sure I should teach them a basic level of handy-ness. How to change a tyre, check the oil in your car, etc etc. Luckily, I still have a few years up my sleeve before my eldest starts driving.

Until then, give me HSE any day.

(This post was sponsored by Megasealed.)

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!

HA HA Bar

“I’d like to interview you for the blog” Elias said as he was talking about his newest venture, CBR Foodie. In this blog he is interviewing local bloggers in Canberra about where to find the best dishes under $15!

My choice, HA HA Bar in Belconnen.

Full disclosure, my wife works at HAHA Bar and she has been raving on about how good the food is for a while now so I thought I would use this opportunity to give it a go. But don’t think I will go easy on them just because she works there!

First off, the venue. HAHA Bar is located on Lake Ginninderra giving the outdoor area a nice atmosphere on a warmer day. Inside, there is an “artsy” theme with lots of custom paintings and designs. Word has it that a designer was flown in from New Zealand to do the work. The venue is small though, which makes it a little hard if you were going to bring in a pram for your kids. Also the lack of high chairs means that the little ones will need to sit on your lap or leave them at home.

This morning we took all of our kids, combined made 8 and the staff at HAHA were more than accommodating. There is no kids menu but we asked if pancakes could be arranged and the kitchen again was kind enough to accommodate our requests. The kids enjoyed the pancakes, a large single pancake with fresh fruit and cream on the side.

Haha Bar new breakfast menu

Haha Bar new breakfast menu

HAHA Bar recently launched a new breakfast menu and it didn’t disappoint. I tried the Goats Cheese Breaky Pizza.

Goat Cheese Breaky Pizza

Goat Cheese Breaky Pizza

It was delicious. The egg in the middle was cooked perfectly and it filled me up which in my books is considered a win! My guests had the following.

Eggs Benedict

Eggs Benedict

 

big breaky

The food coming out the kitchen looked great and it was backed up by these wonderful dishes. HAHA boasts a wide variety of freshly made ‘mocktails’ as well as beautiful juice to accompany your breakfast. However, I needed a coffee.

Coffee Art from HAHA Bar

Coffee Art from HAHA Bar

The coffee was so delicious I had two in the space of 30 minutes!

All in all, HAHA Bar puts on a nice spread for breakfast. Would I eat there again? Sure, I am eager to try the new dinner and lunch menus.

You can follow HAHA Bar on Facebook or on Twitter for updates.

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]

Have I taken on too much?

Taking on too many tasks for the good of my family.

Image source: http://stanfordflipside.com/images/153rolloutPTSD.jpg

This post is in collaboration with Yes Loans. Their ease and speed when it comes to personal loans is unmatched and that is the sort of support that any busy person needs

In my quest to become location and financially independent so that our family can do what we want, when we want, I think I may have taken on too much and it’s piling up.

At the moment, I’m studying for exams at university, trying to building a training program, managing social media for two clients, writing in blogs, recording a podcast, being a husband and being a father.

It’s a lot.

Sometimes I just find myself needed to sit there and watch the TV, listening to the random advertisements like the latest Voice update, wondering, is it all too much?

I know that the reward for all of this will pay off in the end. I just need to keep my focus and keep the reasons why I am doing all of it at the forefront of my mind.

This is for my family and my kids so that I can spend every day with them and watch them grow up.

There are lots of people who miss out on this. I wasn’t one of those children and I was truly blessed to have my parents at all my big sporting events or school functions. I want to be able to give that to my kids also. I want to be the dad who is there on sports day, who is there for every birthday. I’m gonna buy the Skyward Summit, an outdoor playhouse for kids, which has shape of mountain. You can check review about it at here!

I have missed the last 3 birthdays of my 7 year old because of work. 

I don’t want that anymore. I also want to help people who are in the same boat and I am sure there is a lot of us.

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! 

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