Shinjuku Scenes Blog

My Sunday Photo – Shinjuku Scenes

My Sunday Photo for this week is titled Shinjuku Scenes

I’m back this week for My Sunday Photo after completely forgetting to post last week. Blame travel!

Japan is an amazing place, and there have been plenty of shots worthy of this post already, but I have chosen to show a series of photos from one of my favourite parts of Tokyo – Shinjuku.

My Shinjuku Scenes photos aim to capture the energy of the place. Shinjuku is everything you imagine Tokyo to be – neon lights, crowded streets, food everywhere. The streets of Shinjuku are best seen at night, when it really starts to liven up. Unfortunately, with a toddler in tow that wasn’t going to happen on this trip. The advantage of going in the day, however, is the brilliant view from the Tokyo Government Building. This series of photos shows some of the views from the top of the building, and some of the brilliant streetscape.







There’s plenty more where those came from. I’ll be posting about Shinjuku in depth in the coming days, so check back soon to find out all about it!


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Carpark Cretin Blog

Carpark Cretin – The Worst of Humanity

Disclaimer – this post contains language that some may find offensive. Not a whole lot really, but just enough that I thought I had better warn you. Regular readers of Blog of Dad know that I rarely use foul language, but I’m also a firm believer that some kinds of stories just can’t be properly told without the occasional F-word, S-word or cleverly-alluded-to-but-not-actually-written C-bomb.
So, if you are offended by these kinds of things, I respectfully ask that you direct your attention towards one of my many not-at-all offensive posts. If, however, you enjoy a good story and can handle a swear or two, read on! (Oh yeah, there is also a part where a fictitious character uses demeaning terminology to refer to another fictitious character with a disability. You’ve been warned, please don’t complain).

What is it about carparks? What mystical power rules over them, that turns seemingly decent humans into raging, frothing-at-the-mouth beasts within seconds of entering?
I seem to ponder this question regularly. The reason is that every time I enter a carpark these days, I seem to bear witness to the mind-numbingly stupid, the grotesquely selfish and the absurdly absent-minded behaviour of the people I’ve now dubbed the carpark cun cretins.

What is a Carpark Cretin?

A carpark cretin is a perfectly normal human being, with one horrendous flaw. In any other situation, they appear to be one of us. They hold down jobs, they have friends. Some of them have even managed to procreate. But, insert a carpark cretin into an automobile, and place that automobile inside a carpark, and their fundamental deviation from acceptable humanoid characteristics quickly becomes exposed.
Within seconds, the carpark cretin will cause unimaginable pain and suffering to all those around them. They will immediately forget that humanity is only able to maintain its fragile harmony because of a general consensus that a minimum standard of behaviour be adhered to by all.

How to spot a Carpark Cretin

There is literally no way to tell a carpark cretin from a regular human being, unless you place them in a carpark.
See old Doris over there? That’s right, the 83 year old nanna who doesn’t ever miss church on Sunday, who has volunteered at the local homeless shelter for the past 30 years? The Best and Fairest award winner at the local bowling club for the past three years straight! Ah Little old Dot, a shining example of what humanity is all about…
Except, put her behind the wheel of her 92 Corolla and watch in awe as the beast is unleashed. Watch, spellbound as she executes a perfect burnout while reversing at 60km/h in order to cut you off from the space for which you’ve spent the past 5 minutes diligently waiting.
Yes, it’s at that moment, as you watch Doris elegantly flip you the bird in response to a polite toot of your horn, that you realise that she isn’t a shining example of a bygone era of manners and respect. She’s a cretin. She claims she didn’t see you waiting for that spot? Don’t believe it for a second, you’re dealing with an A-grade carpark cretin. Make no mistake about it, good-old God-fearing Doris would tell the Pope himself where to stick his fancy glass box of a car if it came down to the last parking spot at the local IGA.

“Surely Doris is a one off?” I hear you shout!
Sadly she is not. What about your best mate Ben? The A-grade student in high school; completed his law degree so that he could voluntarily represent refugees and the terminally ill; rescues kittens from drains in his free time…
Let me tell you something else about Golden Boy Ben. Once his bonnet edges past the boom gate, he believes in only one thing. Anarchy.

Pedestrian crossings? Piss off.
One Way signs? Piss off.
Give Way signs? Piss off.
Park within the lines? Piss off.
Disabled parking spots and Parents With Prams? They can fuck right off.

Once he’s in that carpark, Ben just doesn’t give two shits if Disabled Dave has to roll an extra kilometre in his wheelchair to reach the front door. That just isn’t Ben’s problem. Yes, Golden Boy Ben is a carpark cretin. He actually can’t help it, It’s genetic. It’s buried somewhere deep in his DNA, right next to the full-blown arsehole gene.

Who Put A Bee In Your Bonnet?

Okay, I’ll admit it. This post isn’t really about Ben and Doris. They aren’t even real people, just conglomerations of various poor behaviours that I have witnessed over the years. Really, they are just a primer to the actual, genuinely real story that occurred before my very eyes, just the other day…

This event happened as we were leaving a busy carpark at a small local shopping centre. We were returning to our car when the window of a pretty flash-looking silver convertible rolled down. A head poked out of the window. It belonged to a rather rotund, middle-aged woman.
“Are you leaving?” she enquired?
“Yes,” I replied. “But we’re way down there.”
I pointed vaguely in the direction of the bottom of the carpark. I had feared that I was dealing with a cretin, and I wanted to make it obvious to the woman that there was a long line of waiting cars between her and our precious parking spot, lest she try something rash.
“Oh, that’s okay,” she replied. “I’ll see what I can do.”
That phase set a few more alarm bells ringing. I’ll see what I can do are not the words of a woman resigned to missing out on a parking spot.
We continued on our merry way back to the car, without further bother from the numerous other patrons who had optimistically entered the tiny carpark.
Upon reaching our car, I signalled to the driver of the closest car that we were about to leave and she quickly flicked on her indicator to show her intention to fill the soon-to-be vacated position.
I began the task of loading the car, then jumped into the backseat to do up Hannah’s seatbelt. It was then that I heard the voice of the cretin…
“That’s my spot!” boomed the voice loudly.
The cretin had completed a lap of the small carpark. She had now pulled up directly behind the mother who was patiently waiting for my spot.
The mother, wisely, chose not to engage in dialogue with the cretin.
“That’s my spot!” exclaimed the loud voice again. But this time it was accompanied by the blast of a horn.
The unfortunate mother who had been patiently waiting for the parking space was left with no choice. She had to engage in dialogue with the cretin, in order to explain the bleeding obvious.
“I’m sorry, but I was here first,” She stated in a voice far calmer than anything I would have been able to manage if placed in that position.
“…but I bagsed it!” came the incredulous reply of the cretin.


This middle-aged woman had resorted to the tactics of Sydney primary school student, in order to try and claim a spot in a carpark.

“You can’t bags a spot in a carpark!” replied the mother, now clearly a little flustered by the unexpected, childlike antics of the cretin.
“Yes, I bagsed it when I was over there,” replied the cretin, the tone of her voice clearly indicating that she believed she had delivered the irrefutable evidence that would secure her the spot.
“I’m sorry, but I was here first. Perhaps there is a spot further round?” came the remarkably measured response of the mother. She had done well to quickly regain her composure. Unfortunately, the poor mum hadn’t quite bargained for the extreme cretinness of this particular specimen.
Her logical response was met with a second blast of the horn, followed by another outcry of “but I bagsed it! You should go to the other spot.” (The cretin was, of course, well aware that there were no other spots as she had just completed a lap of the carpark.)

The timing of this last outburst was perfect. It happened just as I was moving from the backseat to the front. My impulse to laugh heartily at the absurd took hold. It was further compounded by inadvertently making eye-contact with the remarkably cool-headed mum. The result was fits of laughter from both of us.
I think our laughter must have enraged the carpark cretin, but it was also enough to show her that the battle had been lost. No matter how much she complained, she just wasn’t going to convince the mum of the mystical powers of bagsing a spot from across a carpark. She gunned her engine, scowled, gave a final blast of the horn for good measure and drove off.
I dared to shoot a final quick glance at the admirably patient mum in the other car. I gave her a shrug of the shoulders as if to say “what was that all about?” Tears of laughter ran down her cheeks. Thankfully she too had been able to see the funny side of her close encounter of the cretin kind. It hadn’t ruined her day, it had just given her a most excellent story to retell to her family and friends.

As for the cretin, she was last spotted re-entering the tiny, clearly full carpark. No doubt she was hell-bent on bullying some other poor soul out the next available spot. It honestly wouldn’t have surprised me to learn that she had now “bagsed” every spot in the small carpark. As we drove down the street, I noted the abundant street parking that was available less than 50 metres away.

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Summer Grobags Blog

Summer Grobags and Japan Adventures

How to Not Ruin Sleep on an International Adventure

One of my first thoughts when we began to organise our Japan adventure was how is Hannah going to sleep? At home she is a great sleeper, and I wanted to do everything I could to ensure that she brought her sleeping A-game with her to The Land of The Rising Sun. Fortunately, two of my favourite companies were quick to throw their hand up and offer a solution – BabyBjorn with their excellent travel cot, and the wonderful Gro Company.

I have written about the value of sleep bags before. For us at least they have been a key factor in a good night’s sleep since shortly after Hannah’s birth. Obviously a Grobag was going to be high on my list of things to take with us. I’d probably forgo clean underpants over a couple of Grobags if it really came down to it (don’t worry, I’m taking clean undies. There’s plenty of room in the suitcase).


Grobag label


The Land of The (Bloody Hot) Rising Sun

During our time in Japan, we are expecting to face fairly consistent daytime temperatures of around 30 degrees Celsius. A quick check of the night-time temperatures shows that we can also expect that it won’t drop below about 22 C.

On top of that, the standard of our accommodation is the great unknown. We have decided to take the plunge and go with Airbnb for the first time ever. While the places look nice in the photos and they claim to have air conditioning, we can’t be too sure about how hot they will be inside.

Of course, those kinds of temperatures are pretty standard for us Australians, so this trip to Japan offered the perfect opportunity to test out the new range of Summer Grobags, before things really heat up Down Under.

To make life comfortable for Hannah during those hot days and nights, The Gro Company sent me a 1.0 tog and a 0.5 tog Grobag. Between these two bags (and by adding or taking away clothes), we should have all of the temperature conditions that we expect to face covered. Emma and I may have to sweat our way through the night under whatever covers our hosts provide, but at least we can be sure Hannah will be comfortable!


The Two Grobags


Bright Summer Colours and Other Features

I was sent a 1.0 tog Party Animals, and a 0.5 tog Action Stacks Grobag. Both of these sleep bags are designed to be used while travelling, and can accommodate a 5-point harness. This is great for use in car seats, and even in the stroller. As our intention is for Hannah to have some of her daytime naps in her stroller on this trip, it is a feature that we may find very handy to have.


The access hole for 5-point Harness - Travel Grobags


I was immediately drawn to the bright colours of these new Grobags. They are vibrant and I instantly feel happy when I look at them. They are non-gender specific, which is exactly the way that I like such things to be. These two great Grobags are just a small sample of the wide variety of styles on offer at the Gro Store, so if these particular ones don’t suit your style, there plenty more to choose from.

I particularly like the Party Animals Grobag, because of the whimsical embroidered pictures. These always make me smile and I’m pretty sure Hannah likes them too. They add a great tactile element to the Grobag as well, and Hannah sometimes likes to feel those features of her Grobags as she is winding down before sleep, or first thing when she wakes up.


Party Animals Grobag

The Usual High Quality From Gro

Regular readers of Blog of Dad will know that I have featured Gro products several times now. To be honest, I always jump at the chance to work with The Gro Company, because I can be pretty sure that the products they send me will be made to a high standard.

They are a company that appears to be absolutely dedicated to helping babies and toddlers sleep well. As a person who absolutely loves his sleep, I greatly appreciate that! A good night’s sleep for bub means a good night’s sleep for all.

Never will that have been more important to us than on our holiday to Japan. I have read too many horror stories about overseas adventures being ruined by a toddler who refuses to sleep, to risk putting Hannah in anything that I don’t absolutely trust.


The Grobags


These two Summer Grobags live up to the high standard that I have come to expect from The Gro Company. They are cotton, they feel durable and crucially their zippers feel made to last. I am yet to find a Grobag that has worn out before it has been outgrown.

The Gro Company also provide a great amount of information on their website about how to use the Grobag properly, in order to ensure that your child is most appropriately dressed for the conditions. Again, to me this is an indicator of how seriously they value a good night’s sleep.


The Impossible Task

The first real test for these Grobags will be the flight to Japan. We have chosen to fly overnight, with the belief that because Hannah is an excellent sleeper at home, she will just sleep the whole way to Japan… while strapped to my lap… in a strange environment… While surrounded by strangers…

Now, I’m not saying that Grobags are magical, BUT, they may just provide that extra element of familiarity that helps Hannah to get some sleep on the plane (thereby allowing me to get some sleep on the plane). They are not the only trick up our sleeve, we have the sleep playlist on Spotify and the excellent wireless headphones that will also block out most of the background noise. Together these three elements may just combine to achieve the impossible task of a sleep-filled flight. Of course, if all that fails we have an arsenal of backup activities to at least keep Hannah settled.

If there is no sleep on the plane, we have at least arranged with our very kind Airbnb host to have access to the apartment from the moment we arrive in Tokyo. The super easy Grobag, combined with the fast-to-set-up BabyBjorn Travel Cot, means that Hannah can be happily sleeping within minutes of checking in.


Ready to Party! Grobags


Ready for the Australian Summer

These Grobags won’t just be useful during our overseas adventures. Hannah will sleep in them all summer long. With the temperature in Sydney already reaching 32 degrees Celsius, now is a great time to start thinking about safe and comfortable sleeping arrangements for your child during the Summer heat. Head on over to The Gro Store and check out the fantastic range that they have on offer. While you are there, have a read of their guides to ideal sleeping temperatures to find out how to best use your new Grobags.


The Gro Company (Bloom & Grow) sent me two Grobags for on our Japan Adventures. While these products were provided for free, the comments within this post remain entirely my own reflections of my experience with these Gro products, as well as Gro products that I had purchased prior to any relationship with the Gro Company. This dad takes pride in providing honest and useful information to other parents.

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Dishwasher little helper Blog

The Little Helper

18 months is a wonderful age. In recent weeks Hannah’s cognitive ability and fine motor skills have exploded! We can almost see the change in each day. One of the most recent, unexpected developments is that of the little helper.

Hannah wants to be a part of everything. She would much rather be participating in what the adults are doing than sit by herself and play with her toys. She has perfected the loud wail at the kitchen gate, which she produces any time that she is locked out of a menial task such as unpacking the dishwasher. Hannah loves to help and we are really happy to involve her in every activity that we can.

Of course, the help of an 18 month old kid is not always helpful in the traditional sense of the word. Often, involving Hannah in the activity is a sure-fire way to significantly extend the time that the task takes to complete. Nevertheless, Emma and I both feel that it is really important to make Hannah feel like she is helping, and that her input is valued. We believe that encouraging her now will help Hannah to develop positive attitudes towards household tasks and chores in the future.

The Top 5 Ways in Which Hannah Likes to Be a Little Helper

1. Unpacking the dishwasher

Hannah comes running whenever the dishwasher door is open. She is incredibly eager to be a part of the daily ritual of unpacking. Hannah is getting better at it too, She knows where certain things go, and she is slowly coming to the understanding that some things (such as knives, glasses etc.) are not for her to touch. Hannah diligently removes all plastic containers from the top shelf of the dishwasher (yes, she can reach!) and then reaches up on her tippy-toes to place them on the drying rack.

There is still the occasional (regular) hairy moment, when Hannah picks up something highly breakable. Luckily, she tends to just try and ask us what she is supposed to do with it, rather than drop or throw it. So far we have not had any accidents.

2. Hang out/take in laundry

This is one of Hannah’s favourite pursuits. When she sees one of us heading out the back door with a washing basket, she quickly races to the laundry to find her Frozen crocs (Don’t judge me, they were given to her second-hand). Hannah loves to help with this activity, and she does so by pulling pegs out of the peg basket and handing them to the waiting parent.

Unfortunately, Hannah hasn’t yet learnt to distinguish between taking the washing out and bringing it back in again. That means that even when we are bringing in the washing, Hannah insists on handing us pegs. I have tried to introduce the task of “patting down” the clean laundry when taking it back in, with some success. It has definitely reduced the amount of extra pegs that I have to return to the peg basket.

3. Folding laundry

I don’t know where Hannah gets her love of the laundry from, because both Emma and I hate it. Hopefully it means that she will happily take over from us once she is capable of doing so (keep dreaming dad). Hannah loves to help fold the clean washing. Initially that meant emptying the entire contents of a washing basket all over the floor, one item at a time.

These days she understands the concept of taking washing out of the basket and placing it on the dining table, she just doesn’t understand the techniques of folding, or the concept of placing like items in the same pile. What we end up with is a Hannah pile of clothes at the end of the table (and maybe one or two on the floor). It doesn’t matter, she always seems pretty pleased with her efforts.

4. Shutting doors/gates

Hannah loves to shut doors and gates. She can now reach the door handles in the house and she is quite expert at manipulating them. She is also extremely diligent about ensuring that gates are properly closed. Hannah is so good at these jobs that she closes doors and gates that don’t need to be closed.

5. Packing away toys

This one is great, and I think it has a lot to do with our attitude towards Hannah’s involvement in household tasks. She is an expert at packing away her toys and books at the end of the day. All it takes now is the simple words “pack away” and Hannah gets stuck right in. We rarely leave her to do it herself, after all, housework is a lot more enjoyable with a bit of company. Packing away time is usually a family affair and we get it done quickly, together.


Who knows if allowing Hannah to help us with these tasks will really make a difference to her attitude as she gets older? I will not be at all surprised if she hits a certain age and doesn’t want to be our little helper anymore. Have you had any success with introducing your children to chores and responsibility? I would love to know what worked (or didn’t work) for you! Be sure to leave your ideas in the comments.

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Fitness break on through Blog

My Sunday Photo – Dad and Daughter Day

My Sunday Photo for this week is titled Dad and Daughter Day

Earlier this week Hannah and I had a rare day of completely unstructured activities. It was the first time in weeks that we hadn’t had a doctor’s appointment or playgroup or a visit to a childcare centre. We had a whole day just to ourselves, to do whatever we wanted.

I let Hannah take the lead. In the morning I asked her what she wanted to do. Her response was a blank look followed by a big smile. She is 18 months old after all and despite her astounding levels of comprehension, she is still unable to answer open-ended questions in a meaningful way.

I rephrased my question to “D0 you want to go to the park?”

A smile and a single, distinct nod informed me that it was indeed what she wanted to do.

“Do you want to scoot?”

Again, a large nod.

We had a great time in the park. Hannah rode her scooter for three kilometres as I pushed, which I appreciated because I had been lazy that morning and not gotten out of bed for my usual run.

Then we stopped for a banana break before Hannah had her first ever attempt at scooting in the standing position. She did a fantastic job, although she used the assistance of a strong wind to push her along like a sailboat. She still doesn’t quite comprehend the whole use your foot to push thing.

We had a wonderful, unstructured dad and daughter day. It reminded me that sometimes it is important to take things as they come and to leave enough room in a busy schedule to just play!

Dad and Daughter Day on scooter 


Today is Father’s Day in Australia, so a huge Happy Father’s Day to all of the wonderful dads out there!

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