Monday, October 26, 2009

Walktober Challenge

I was walking to and from work for more than a year until hubby got his licence a month ago. For a month now, I have the luxury of staying a bit more cuddling and playing with Kimi in the morning. I must say it is very difficult getting up when your little one is hugging you dearly for you to stay in bed. That’s the problem with co-sleeping with your bub. But, on a brighter side, that is also the benefit since you get extra bonding moments - a big plus for a full-time working mom like me who only gets to spend a few hours with the little one each day.

This week is different though since I had to get up earlier again to walk to work. Yes, you read it right – walk to work. I signed up for the Walktober Workplace Challenge. The Walktober Workplace Challenge, which run from 26 to 30 October 2009, encourages participants to substitute car or public transport journeys with their feet. The participant may walk all or part of the journey to and from work or meetings during the day. Points are given for each trip made depending on the time spent walking regardless of the length. A 10 to 20 minute-walking trip earns 1 point and any walking trip over 20 minutes earns 2 points. The key is to reduce the number of car trips made to, from and in the workplace.

It was a struggle. It could have been easier if I were still religiously walking to work and I were not suffering from hay fever. However, despite the regular errands and commitments too, which is now easier with the car, I managed to make 8 points for our team and win myself a basic pedometer for use in my plans to regularly walk again. I wish I could do that soon.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Beat the Price

Smallville Season 7 was advertised at $25 in Big W so we went there on the first day of the sale. Unfortunately, there is no stock left. I asked the sales assistant if it was only a printing mistake since there are heaps of the other seasons still on the shelves but not even a small room to display Season 7. He confirmed that the sales brochure was correct but there was nothing left. He suggested that we go back few days after to check.

I was really disappointed as I was really waiting for it to go on sale. I suddenly remembered that K-Mart might be able to match the price like what they did for a friend's Corelle set. We head over to K-Mart armed with the Big W brochure. I thought even if we didn't get the DVD at the sale price, I would still be happy as I would be able to get a few things I'm eyeing in K-Mart's brochure like the Pyrex set and 3 pillow pack that were on sale.

I got a copy of the Season 7 from the shelves and when I was paying for the other things I'm buying, I politely asked if they can match the price offered at Big W for the Smallville Season 7. I handed the brochure to the cashier and after a couple of minutes of talking to her supervisor, she happily replied that they would match the price. I was one happy shopper as I really did not expect it.

It's true. K-Mart will beat competitor's price.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Office Surprise

During morning tea, which I usually take at my desk, my manager asked me if I was busy as the other section of our business unit invited us for their group meeting's morning tea. I enthusiastically replied, "Not really. I can continue this report in a while."

There were fish and chicken fingers, meat pie, fried dumplings and other finger foods plus cakes. I was enjoying the fish and chicken fingers and a little chit-chat when our business unit’s manager came back from somewhere and started his spiel. I initially thought he is going to announce something related with the business unit’s recent restructure. My mind turned 360 degrees from enjoying the fish and chicken fingers when I heard the word “driving.” I just felt it was about me so I started laughing especially when he said that in the past few weeks there’s drama (a favourite Aussie word) happening in a little corner of the office over getting a driver’s licence. To make me laugh even more, he even enumerated the different instances I failed the exam. It was hilarious.

To congratulate me and acknowledge my perseverance, he picked up the contents of a small bag and explained each of them before handing to me: card (not just an ordinary congratulations card, but specifically for passing the driving test) for their messages, a little horn to honk, a first aid kit when I ran into something, and a box of chocolate to appease me when I get speeding tickets. How funny and thoughtful was that?

Something like this is what make employees happy and in effect stay. I find it really sweet and thoughtful as the flexible schedule we have at work to attend to the driving exam is more than enough incentive. The effort and gesture of coming up with this despite of my supervisor and manager’s busy schedule both at work and at home really touched me.

Who would not like to work for such a supportive company with lovely managers?

Thursday, October 15, 2009


I listened to Eraserhead's Overdrive song all morning to celebrate my passing the P plate driving test (well, apart from celebrating with pizza overload from La Porchetta last night). Yes, finally, I nailed the exam. It was not the best drive I've had as I was still frantically nervous. But, I did not have a major boo boo. After failed exams, it was a relief - one goal out of the very long list. In fact, I can smell freedom.

My journey to getting the licence was no big joke. There was no easy route or shortcut I could have done. I have no relatives to teach me and driving lessons with an instructor was very costly. Fast-tracking my learning was a juggle of budget and time. Thus, if you are intending to migrate and have no driving experience, it might be worthwhile to learn to drive prior to coming over as knowing the basics will save you time and money.

Getting your driving licence

Each state has different processes, policies and parameters in implementing traffic management and issuing licences and registrations. In the state of Victoria, Vicroads is the authorised institution for these.. I listed below the steps from being a learner to getting Probationary driver’s licence based on my experience and circumstances:

  1. Book the exam for learner’s permit with Vicroads. You may book online, by phone or by visiting their nearest branch. The fees payable may be found here.
  2. Read the “Road to Solo Driving” handbook.
  3. Do the Practice Learner Permit test. The more practice tests you do the better.
  4. Take the Learner Permit Test and make sure you have the identity documents required as discussed in Vicroads website.
  5. Start learning to drive with full licence drivers (relatives or friends), with a driving instructor, or a combination of both. Note that recorded driving experience of at least 120 hours is required in the log book if the learner is under 21 years old.
  6. Book and take the Hazard Perception Test when you have completed the 120 hours of driving if you are under 21 years old or when you are confident enough to drive if you are over 21 years old.
  7. Book and take the actual driving test for your P plate. The Probationary licence is to be held for 3 years before a full licence can be issued. If you are under 21, a red P plate or P1 licence is issued to you to be held for 1 year before you graduate to the green P plate or the P2 licence to be held for 2 years. If you are over 21, you will be issued a green P plate or P2 licence to be held for 3 years. If you are a holder of an overseas licence for at least 3 years, you may be issued a full licence. It is best to ask Vicroads about this.
  8. Drive safely.

Since I failed the driving exam a few times, I repeated step 7 a few times too. It was frustrating and heart-breaking. It felt like our life was put on hold. But, it did not stop me from attempting again. Eventually, persistence paid off.

Lesson: Never quit especially if you can see a hint of success.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Interest Rates on the Rise

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) announced a cash rate increase of 25 basis points to 3.25% effective 7th October 2009. This is the first rate increase since the global financial crisis in 2008, when interest rates gradually plummeted from 7.25% in March 2008 to 3.00% in April 2009.

The RBA believes: “…With growth likely to be close to trend over the year ahead, inflation close to target and the risk of serious economic contraction in Australia now having passed, the Board’s view is that it is now prudent to begin gradually lessening the stimulus provided by monetary policy. This will work to increase the sustainability of growth in economic activity and keep inflation consistent with the target over the years ahead.”

The interest rate is still at a manageable level compared to where it was in early 2008 -- still a good time to pay off as much in your loan and mortgage to help decrease the principal. Good times are coming for the savers and the retirees who depend on their interest earnings.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Say "Puno"

Tatay and Kimi picked me up from work. About 200 metres from my work place, Kimi blurted “puno” (Tagalog for trees) out of the blue while pointing to the trees on the road. Again, I was the surprised mom. Apparently, Tatay was casually telling Kimi about the trees on their way back after giving me a lift in the last couple of mornings.

I guess this is the tipping point of more words to come. He will learn them in time as my sister said. I am just too excited and a bit impatient. I know that boys speak later than girls and kids in bilingual/multilingual households tend to speak later too even if they can understand both languages. This, however, did not stop us from speaking to Kimi in both Tagalog and English as it is the best time for him to learn with no difficulty. We speak to him more in Tagalog though as he will easily learn English when he goes to school.