Friday, August 29, 2014

Fly High This Fathers Day

This outing and it's associated experience was gifted by iFLY Downunder. No payment was offered or accepted and all opinions are my own. It's a tough gig being a blogger sometimes.

It has become an ongoing challenge for me to find new and exciting experiences to give Husband for Fathers Day. We try to give the gift of memories rather than the gift of stuff, I want the kids to look back and remember Mothers and Fathers Day as being a special time of togetherness.

This year I was scratching for inspiration, we've done V8 racing and Jetpack in recent years, so exactly what was left?

Indoor Skydiving, that's what! Husband and I joined a group of bloggers this week for a truly phenomenal experience at the newly opened iFLY facility at Penrith. This intriguing new facility opened back in April, and we've driven past many times, curious at what was happening inside the imposing, MASSIVE building.

We were taken for a tour behind the scenes of this 12 MILLION Dollar facility. Besides the impressive 1st floor where the actual sky diving is done, we saw a beautifully appointed conference room, the generator room where the electricity needed to keep everything running is generated (and you should have heard that room HUM when the air chamber really got cranked up), and even went up to the roof where the view of Penrith is phenomenal.

Behind the scenes: The view from the top, the conference room, and the souped up electricity generator room.

Busting Some Myths

Do I have to jump? When I was invited to this event, I made the assumption that Indoor Sky Diving meant that I was going to have to jump in order to have this experience. Instead of saying "Hell No", I quickly extended the invitation to Husband and claimed the credit as a Fathers Day present. As it turns out, there is no jumping. You step/lean into the chamber via a door at the regular point of entry and from there the force of the air coming from beneath lifts you. The air speed is kept at a pace appropriate to your flight level, and your instructor (who is shocking capable of keeping his feet while the flyer is in the dive position) supports you in not going higher than you are ready for, while also helping you to learn how to navigate the chamber using a series of hand signals.

Is this is a one off recreational experience? We've done lots of fun unique activities before - zorbing, water jet pack, V8 race car driving - and I thought this would fit the same category. I was quickly disabused of this notion as I watched the different skill levels of people who have been returning and improving over time. Each minute you spend in the chamber you can expect to improve your body control, and we saw people who were starting to fly on their backs as well as plenty of instructors showing off by doing some incredibly graceful, coordinated, group sky diving.

Surely this is expensive? No.....and Yes. At $109 for 2 flights (and 1 minute per flight!) during peak time this sure seemed expensive at first. After getting to understand the sport (and you better believe that some of these regular sky divers are absolutely athletes) I can see how it can be much more affordable over time. Besides being able to purchase greater volumes of flights in packages that can be shared amongst multiple people to bring the price per flight down, once a flyers skill level is up to the point that they can tandem dive (or even dive with up to 5 people!) they can share their own and their friends/family members flights at no additional cost. And that's where this can become quite an affordable sport to take part in. The more you fly, the cheaper it gets. Our tour guide threw around some numbers, and essentially the price can end up as low as $2 per flight for experienced divers
After suiting up and going through some training, our blogger group all lined up in the sealed seating area alongside the glass air chamber. In a seamless transition, each person was able to take their turn with an instructor putting them through their paces. Everyone was grinning through their minute - although admittedly that was probably as much to do with the drool that would fly out of mouths if they weren't kept stretched! We saw plenty of stacks - Husband gave me a heart attack when he suddenly manipulated his body in such a way that he crashed into the glass wall, and hard. A highlight for all was the iFLY High experience. In a massive shock for the first blogger in our group, although the others were anticipating it, in the last 20 seconds or so of each flyers second minute, the instructor would take their hands and suddenly the air speed would shift and the two would fly high up into the chamber, plummeting low seconds later and shooting way up again. I heard screams of equal parts delight and terror through this, and for an additional $10 I recommend this add on for all the adrenalin junkies in your group!

Once the iFLY experience was over, each of the flyers was ravenous. Sky diving burns an enormous amount of energy, and everyone was more than ready to refuel. It was then that I met the gem that iFLY have uncovered in Nellie, the Manager and Proprietor of their UPRAW cafe.

Nellie, and an arrangement of her delicious foods and delightful cafe

1 year ago, Nellie was a single Mum travelling around Australia with her adorable 3 year old daughter in a caravan.She had long since discovered the benefits of raw foods and was extremely conscious of every bite she was putting into her own and her daughters mouths. Nellie's menu's were a perfect fit for iFLY, fresh, wholesome foods without a scrap of processed sugar in them, just right to refuel starving customers who have been burning energy on sky diving.

I will admit to being sceptical about the raw foods. While we try to eliminate as much sugar as possible from our own and our kids diets, we have come to accept that most processed foods appeal more to our taste buds. In addition, I have to be very careful what I eat because of my Crohns, and as a result I actually had to pick around some of the food to avoid my own personal "bad" ingredients, but everything I was able to eat was delicious, my favourite being her sweet potato chips. Everyone around me scarfed down their meals. Nellie has found a perfect balance between healthy, delicious, and mainstream to appeal to everyone - because the truth is that out in Penrith where we live and where iFLY is currently located, Raw Foods and Health focused stores still don't have the strong presence that you might find closer to Sydney. Cafes like UPRAW will go a long way towards changing that though

iFLY does kids party packages as well, so I asked Nellie how the kids find her Raw Foods. She prepares her own sausage rolls, beef burgers, chips, all packed with veggies but all the kids see is the party foods they know and love so they scarf it down.

If you are interested in creating memories for Dad this Fathers Day, or even just getting out for a great day with friends or family, come on out our way to Penrith and give iFLY a try. I promise it will be a memory worth making! If you do, make sure you upload a photo to Facebook and tag Mummy Hearts Money so I can check out your moves.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Deposit Down!

I feel like I've been keeping a massive secret this month, and it's been like a ball of anxiety that I'm carrying in my pocket. I haven't wanted to share both because I've been anxious about jinxing us, but also because I don't want to keep carrying my heart on my sleeve. I didn't want to have to tell anyone that our huge hopes had once again been smashed.

For the third time this year, we have an offer on a property. Unlike the previous two times though, this one actually looks like it will go ahead. Having already lost 2 deposits and a series of inspection fee's, we had already decided that this was our last opportunity to get it right. Between huge (HUGE) medical expenses this year along with the two lost deposits, we would have had to stop for 6 months to lick our wounds and recover financially.

Our first time round, we had dreams of buying a crappy old house on a huge block to eventually knock down or subdivide. We thought we'd tenant it for a little while we got ready financially for phase 2 (the building). Those hopes were dashed when we discovered the house had so much exposed asbestos that it would cost us close to $8,000 just to get the old house ready to be tenanted, not to mention the later costs to knock down. We were prepared for the knock down cost, but certainly not the upfront costs. So that was the first deposit lost.

Our second stab we thought we had found the perfect house. Walking distance to schools, lovely condition, modern and ticking every box - except that it also turned out to be too close to the suburbs high tension power lines. The bank raised some concerns about the distance, and once we had investigated the risks, we decided that it wasn't the right property for us after all. Second deposit (plus lots of extra inspections into the power lines!) lost.

Finally we have found our third property. It's not perfect....but it's close enough. Perfection was a little out of our price range, and this house is so close we are excited about it's potential. We made a swift offer on the same day as inspection (Sebastian's birthday!) and made it clear we were not open to haggling. It was our best price first try - we are so tired of the haggling process, and tired of real estate agents squeezing more and more. We have made so many offers on properties that we've been outbid during the haggling process, and other times we weren't given the opportunity to haggle and could have offered more. It's frustrating to know what tactic to take as every agent is different. This time I made sure I made a strong and constant connection with the agent prior to open day, and had an instant conversation following the inspection. They knew our budget, and we knew the house was worth it, so we went straight for it and asked them not to drag out the process.

As of today we have our finance approval, all inspections are done, and everything is fine. Cooling off is only a day away - the only thing that can go wrong for us now is the seller changing their minds which doesn't feel likely.

I feel like I can get excited now, and I can share our happy news! I'm sure you will hear much more over the coming weeks as it all unfolds because as of today I can start to make plans. Plans for moving, and plans for our new home.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Sebastian Turns Two!

2 is my favourite birthday of all, and it is making me so sad to think that my last little baby has celebrated 2 candles. 1 is a beautiful birthday, a month usually marked with lots of milestones, walking, teeth, first haircuts, but other than enjoying the gathering of relatives and the fun of exploring a cake, my little ones don't quite display the joy that they do with a 2nd birthday.

2 is about realising that everyone is singing to you. 2 is huffing and puffing, and knowing that you want to blow out those candles but not quite having enough puff yet to do it. 2 is overjoyed by the collection of people being part of their special day, and 2 is blown away by the cake.

We keep catching Sebastian sitting quietly in a corner with some make believe cake - sometimes its just an imaginary cake in his hands - singing to himself as he rocks from side to side.

"'Appy booday to you.....""Hooray!"

He blows furiously and starts again. Playing Happy Birthday is his favourite game right now. Because 2 is too special to do just once, he had three sets of cakes this year. Cupcakes at preschool with all his little friends, a big cake with all his little cousins, and yet another cake on his birthday when we went out with a friend for lunch and a stroll through the Botanical Gardens.

Big Sisters help blow out candles
I can't believe it's our last 2 year old birthday celebration! No more toddlers on the cusp of becoming little people, I know before I realise it I will be sending my babies off to school. I wish I could trap them in the funny adorable little bodies, but they will keep growing despite my nostalgia.

Good-Bye to 1. Hello to 2. Happy Birthday little Sebastian-man.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

This Flu is Kicking My Ass

It's the end of a hellish week. Is there anyone in Australia who hasn't been impacted by this kill me now flu?

The rest of my household seems to be able to mostly shake it off after 24 hours but for me it's lingering, like the unwanted house guest that can't take the hint. Despite getting a flu shot this winter for the first time, this particular strain of flu has been kicking my ass.

This winter it is really sinking in what it means to have Crohns disease. Last winter I spent weeks working from home, too toxic to work in a busy office. I couldn't ditch the flu then either, and unlike previous years (pre-Crohns) when I could bounce back after a few days of TLC I found myself worn down for weeks on end, sniffling, drowsy, and with a hacking cough.

I hoped that this year a flu shot would keep the worst of it away this year, so I put my big girl panties on and signed up for the free, corporate flu vaccination through my office back in May. I've made it this far, but this week has been a killer. 

Despite the flu shot, despite keeping myself obsessively warm and using antiseptic hand wash and wipes every five seconds, I am still doing an impersonation of Snow White and her dwarf's - sneezy, dopey, snotty, grotty, sleepy, drooly and oh so grumpy.

I guess I should be thankful I made it this far through Winter, but I just wonder what else I am going to find myself succumbing to over the course of my life as a result of the immuno suppressants I am stuck with. There is a whole world of viruses and diseases out there that I might catch. Ebola? Cancer even? I feel like every day I am alive is a gift because who knows what will be coming for me next.

Morbid as those thoughts are, I will leave you with them, because I need to go hunt down a fresh box of tissues.

Friday, August 8, 2014

A Car For a Growing Family

This post is brought to you by Ford and their latest offers.

In a perfect world, where money was no issue, this is Husbands ideal car. A couple of years ago for Fathers Day I mustered the money to give him a Ford V8 experience. He got to do several laps around the race track behind the wheel, and another 2 with a professional driving. He was in heaven.

Not being that kind of car nut myself, I don't get the attraction. For me it's about quiet practicality. I've owned four cars, and all four have been Fords. I wasn't consciously setting out to buy the same Make, but when we bought our very first ever brand new car 6 years ago, I ended up in the Ford lot admiring the different models.

Back in 2008, Lorelei and Sebastian were just a twinkle in the eye. We knew there were going to be additions to our family in the future, so we wanted to make sure the car we bought would be the right car for a long period.

With kids sitting in car seats for 7-8 years these days, and a growing older daughter who would need to sit in the back with up to 2 babies, we knew we needed a car that had 2 car hooks and could accommodate the car seats in the middle as well as the sides. Although a sedan would be snug with 3 kids in the back, it's fine as long as Maddy can sit on an outer seat and doesn't have to be squished in the middle of the little ones.

I also needed a boot that would be big enough for a double pram and all the shopping that a big family requires. Safety was also key, not knowing much about cars, I don't feel confident buying some of the lesser known brands on the market no matter how cheap they are.

My needs aren't about speed, appearance, or performance, they are about family. 

6 years later and my little Ford Focus is still a terrific car. But with such a big age difference between the kids, there are often times when we find ourselves wanting to bring a friend along for 13 year old Maddy when we go on outings or participate in extra curricular activities. And with a 5 seater, we end up taking x2 cars in order to fit the whole family as well as the friend.

We are very conscious now that it is time to upgrade again to a 7 seater. A car that will give Maddy room to stretch out when it's just us, or allow us to bring extra friends and family along on trips.

It won't be the 6 year old Ford that gets traded in. It will our other car, older, less reliable, and definitely less loved. 

Is it any wonder with such a great track record that it's the Ford dealership web pages I visit when I'm dreaming of the next car that will take my family from A to B?

Forget Husbands perfect world, this is the car that I daydream about. The day will come.

If you are in the market for a new car, make sure you check out the current Ford offers. And while you're at it, take the Territory for a test drive for me.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A Bookshelf Makeover

I've been meaning to share this little reno project for a few weeks now. This was my first time trying to paint wooden furniture and I couldn't be happier with how it turned out. The goal was to give Sebastian a statement piece for his bedroom, something a little more special than I would be able to buy at the mainstream shops.

After lots of Pinterest and Googling, I was inspired by these painted bookshelves I found over at Sutton Grace.

I just love the clean white edges and how they look against the brightly coloured background. With this in mind, I set out to find a bookshelf for Sebastian that would be perfect for the job. After hunting down local garage sales and eBay, I finally found this ratty specimen on Gumtree from a local seller who wouldn't mind delivering for a small fee. 

It has blobs of nail polish, gouges in the wood where someone has used a pen to carve out lines, and lots of stickers. Some writing in texta as well. At first glance, it's definitely not a bookshelf we would want to buy for our kids, even though we love the toy box and shelf combination. We purchased it anyway for $80 (including the $10 delivery fee). $80 is a massive discount on the $300+ price tag that we found it for new in the various furniture shops nearby. The cheapest we found was $299 at Fantastic Furniture for a simple unpainted Bookshelf with toy box.

Our next visit was Bunnings for paint. We ended up choosing Dulux Low Sheen paints in Snoop, True Red, and Natural White.  We were able to get the Natural White in a sample pot size, but the minimum quantity for Snoop and True Red was 1 Litre which ended up being more than enough. We have more than half the tin left for all three colours. All up our costs at Bunnings for the 3 cans of paint, brushes (cheapies), primer and sand paper came to $113.72. The materials cost more than the shelf! But it was worth it, because there is enough leftover paint and primer for other projects and I have plenty of idea's.

Primed and ready to paint
When I bought the bookshelf I didn't realise that none of the shelves were removable, although to be fair it probably wouldn't have occurred to me that it was a problem. As it turns out, it made painting the back of the bookshelf insanely challenging, especially as we chose to only paint the back red, and not the shelves themselves. Having zero skill at painting edges without bleeding over to the adjoining edge I ended up using teeny tiny little arts and crafts paint brushes to paint all along the edges. That's as tedious as it sounds but at least I ended up with reasonably nice straight lines.

I finished the project with a layer of Polycrylic Protective Finish, just to give it that shine, but also to protect it from Sebastian's sticky little Weetbix fingers. I love how its come out, it looks terrific in his bedroom and I have big plans of giving him a coordinating bed in a year or two when he grows out of his cot.

Have you completed any fun furniture renovations recently? I had so much fun with this bookshelf that I can't wait to get started on something else!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Smelling a Blast From The Past

This little blast from my past is brought to you by Lynx Body Spray, an aerosol deodorant that brings my teen years flooding back at the first spritz.

Guess who this belongs to in our home?

*Hint* It's not Husband. Lets look at a photo of it in it's habitat in our home.

This bottle of Lynx belongs to 13 year old Madeleine. This teenager of mine is practically a carbon copy of me at the same age. 

A terrible scan of one of my teenage
20 years ago, Lynx came on the scene and I was a 13 year old girl myself. Lynx Body Spray entered the market in a sexy, squat, black can and was quite clearly for men. It was a far cry from the pretty, slender, pastel cans us girls were using. But within months it was the deodorant of choice for the girls in my year at school.

At the back of the class, for a seemingly vague minded reason, I would pull out my can of Lynx and casually spray all over my school shirt and move to put it back in my school bag. Within seconds someone would ask to borrow it.

You see, just like a Discman, a Tamagotchi, or that bottle of Sun In that you would spritz in your hair at lunch time while sun baking in the school yard, a can of Lynx was a status symbol. If you didn't use Lynx you might as well throw your deodorant in the bin for all the good it did you in popularity points. 

I'm not sure what the appeal was for us girls. The smell? It was definitely on the sexy side. The fact that it was a male deodorant? Maybe, there were definitely points in being such a rebel. Even if being a rebel meant doing the exact same thing as all the other girls. The bottle was probably part of the appeal too. It was edgy, young, and didn't have the same prissiness to it that the pastel feminine range did. The attention that came from the teenage boys didn't hurt either. They liked it as much as us girls did.

My own beautiful teenager
Fast forward 20 years and it has been a long time since I wore Lynx. Its still one of my favourite scents on a guy, and I've bought it many times for Husband when I'm the one doing the shopping because it's still my go to men's deodorant.

It came as no surprise to me to find this bottle of Lynx in Maddy's room recently though. She has been slowly working her way through the various men's deodorant's in the supermarket aisle, grimly determined that she doesn't want the girly bottles or smells. She's an Individual. She doesn't conform to the norm. She's most definitely not a girly girl (according to her!). Lynx is her kind of deodorant. 

I may need to pick up a new bottle for Husband.

As with all posts about Madeleine, this was discussed with her before posting. We give her the opportunity to review photo's and content and discuss the appropriateness. I feel that this is a good way to role model responsible social media use.