April - June 2004

Our house gets its Extreme Makeover!

We've recently completed our house's biggest renovation project to date! At the very beginning of April the tradesmen moved in (and we moved out!) as our house's exterior was given a new lease of life with a finally completed new roof, a painting of all the trimming, and a cleaning of all the cedar followed by an oil stain (we had decided to make the best use of the extensive scaffolding required for the roof).

In the last week of March, before we moved out, our builder and painters turned up to do the initial preparations, while the scaffolders erected the scaffolding around our house. As the painters (from Tommy Dorrian Housepainters) were scrubbing down all the cedar cladding, our builder (Grant Hamlet) was dismantling an old rotting canopy outside our main bedroom, and erecting a new one. The scaffolders took (as expected) a week to erect all the scaffolding. During that week, our painters worked on each section of the house as the scaffolding for each section was completed. In this way, by the end of that week, the painters had scrubbed down all the cedar cladding and applied the first two coats of cedar oil stain - making a huge difference to the house already!

Once the house was scrubbed,
the painters got underway
with the first coat of stain.

Brent's famous boardwalk
was pulled apart to make way
for the scaffolding

Scaffolding almost complete and
painters still going strong!

The roofers took more than twice as long as expected to re-roof (the expected 10 days ran to over 3 weeks!) Nothing happened in the first two days, due to rain, and while it rained intermittently over the rest of that time, the rest of the delays were largely due to incompetent project management (grrr...), complications due to the asbestos content of our old roof, and on one occasion a fountain that erupted on our roof after the roofers cut off what they though was a dead pipe! These delays were quite frustrating as we'd moved out of home for the re-roofing (due to the noise and asbestos) - it was very lucky for us that we could stay with Brent's parents during this time, which kept the girls happy (and as their house is about 9 houses away from ours, I could easily pop up from time to time to catch up with the tradesmen and keep an eye on progress). We got a small bonus with our 20-year-old solar water heaters - we actually managed to sell them online in a matter of a few days through the excellent Trademe website!
Finally the roof (except for the carport) was finished and we were able to move back home. Our builder came back to make some alterations to the carport canopy, and to tidy up the cedar in other areas.

Roofer decked out for asbestos

Roof about halfway there -
solar water cylinders still to be
removed from top roof...

Grant tidies up and straightens
 the carport canopy, ready for
 the final guttering and roofing.

Our painters came back for another week to finish the final coat of oil on the cedar, and paint all the remaining blue trim (and newly-installed downpipes) etc. Halfway through this week the scaffolders returned to start dismantling the scaffolding, working around the other tradesmen. Once the scaffolding was down the roofers came back to do the carport, after which the plumber and painters had to return again and finish up the down pipes etc. Overall, the entire job was pretty complex with all the tradesmen coming and going (and sometimes not turning up at all!!!) - managing it all kept me pretty occupied over that month, and I was very glad to see the end of it!
But boy was it worth it -  here's the final result - another amazing transformation! It's like we have a new house - it certainly now looks like one now from the outside! We just love it!

(Don't forget you can click on either of these photos to see them bigger)

Now we can finally think about planting up all our gardens surrounding the perimeter of the house (these areas were decimated by the scaffolding etc), though we plan to take a bit of time off before tackling that - maybe starting in Spring.... we'll see!


Our big trip to Sydney!

Brent had to go across to Sydney for a few weeks for work (developing a major business relationship with one of their clients). We then decided we should make a bit of a holiday of it by going across as a family. We decided to go for three weeks (planning for Brent to take a week off at the end) but Brent's work there grew considerably and we ended up staying for a whole month (with poor Brent only ending up taking a couple of days and a few weekends off!).

We stayed at the Medina Executive Apartments in Paddington, located close to Edgecliffe train station (only one station from Bondi, which had a huge and very flash new shopping mall opening up, and 2-3 stations from central Sydney, where Brent was working). Our two-bedroom apartment was nice and roomy and also had a large enclosed outdoor patio which was great for the kids. We couldn't believe that, from this patio we overlooked tennis courts directly below us - just like at home!!! Paddington wasn't the best area for young kids, but we had a lot of fun venturing out with the double-stroller to the train station and travelling around nearby Sydney discovering the better playgrounds and child-friendly malls (Lydia is shown here in Centennial Park). We got ourselves into a new routine and the girls settled in well and had a great time. We did admittedly shower them with toys (a bit too easy to do with the likes of Kmart, Toys R Us, Target, etc so nearby!). I managed to discover a toy hire company (rare as hens' teeth in Sydney, for some reason...) called Toys To You which did a package deal on 5 toys including delivery (so we hired a climbing gym with slides, rollercoaster, sounds car, roundabout and a kitchen, all of which the girls loved, and which meant I didn't have to take them out every morning and afternoon any more!).

We did a few token touristy jaunts, including the Monorail, Sydney Aquarium,  Darling Harbour and the Chinese Gardens, Queen Victoria Arcade etc. Lydia and I even managed to get our photo in the Sydney Telegraph (newspaper) while we were over there, which was a real laugh [We happened to be in the playground up at Bondi when they asked to take a photo of us in the foreground with a building containing brothels (unknown to us!) in the background. The photo was printed alongside an article about it, headed "Suburbs going to the dogs"! Now there's a claim to fame!].

During our stay we managed to catch up with friends and family (not all though - hopefully we'll get to catch up with you next time, but at least we got to talk with some more of you on the phone...). To those we did see (Alan & Brenda, Nicky & Alan, Frances, Margaret, Richelle and Thomas), it was so great to catch up with you, we were especially grateful to those who traveled in to Paddington to see us!

Playing with some of the
hired toys on our patio

Visiting Darling Harbour

Nemo hunting at Sydney

Emily's prepared for
another Sydney adventure!

There's a chance we may be going back in a few months time - but not for nearly as long!!! We'll see what happens there too!
All in all, we had a marvelous time, and the girls thoroughly enjoyed themselves!

It's raining men!
Within 5 weeks we welcomed three new cousins (well, technically, our first cousins once removed) to our extended family, all of them gorgeous boys, and each born in a different country!

First to make his entrance was Liam Mark Anthony Seward in mid-May (two days after his older brother Rhy's 4th birthday!). He was born in Michigan, USA to my maternal cousin Michelle Whealy-Seward and her husband Matt. Shown on right: Liam Seward as a newborn

Here in Auckland, New Zealand, Brent's maternal cousin John and his wife Fiona welcomed their third son Dylan Donald Boocock to their family in mid-June 2004.

Just 3 days later, my paternal cousin Kay and her fiance Mick welcomed their first son Kyan Alan Bowmaker in Sydney, Australia. His name is African-American and means "Little King".
Shown on right: Kyan Bowmaker aged 3 days old


Congratulations to all of you on the safe arrival of your beautiful little boys!