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Levi Update – 21 Months

October 12, 2014

So what’s the latest on this kid? He is around 10 days shy of being 21 months of age, which is still a few months short  of his second lap around the glowing celestial ball we all call the sun. I am sure all my numerically astute readers have already deduces that all this means is Levi’s second birthday is getting nearer, and with that I am reminded of the phrase “terrible twos”. Now I am sure that there will not be some magical Cinderella transformation in behaviour when the pair of birthday candles are blown-out, and Levi makes it look like a stick of dynamite has been planted in his cake. I do wonder however if there is a term that has not been coined yet, not as pithy and definitely with less consonance, something like ‘terrible one and three quarters’ that would convey similar level of tantrums and horror public outing stories.

I guess what I want to know is, is Levi an earlier bloomer when it comes to the toddler tantrum ability, or is this still the teaser, the sample spoon? The real pot of horrors is still simmering on the proverbial kettle after two?

But it’s not all bad; there are lots of fun, new and exciting things that have happened with this kid. So now in no particular order of importance or relevance. List of Levi’s life accomplishments:

5)  All the teeth are nearly there. Makes for a great little smile, but also very handy in chopping up all those carrots that are so favoured by the little guy. It will be sometime before these get replaces with the massive tombstones that older kids get.

4) Can pretty much identify all the items when asked in his picture books. Hey may not be able to still say them all, but his comprehension levels are superb. These even include items I have never heard of probably because they are from some British or other archaic book. Things like ‘articulated lorry’, which is describing some large construction machine.

3) Loves to help around the house (waiting for the day that will change). For now at least Levi loves to help in putting and taking out the clothes from the washing machine, putting dirty (plastic) plates into the sink and opening the bin that is hidden away to place any pieces of rubbish on the ground. Next on the agenda, to iron my work shirts.

2) Can say more words that include, point to correct number of objects and say two or three (one is still out..). Remembers and can pronounce names of his cousin, uncle, aunty, and a few other people in his life

1)After Levi accidently hurts one of us, or gets a bit too excited and wacks us with his hands, we ask him to say sorry. The best things to receive from him are those genuine apologies. He places a hand on your cheek and gives you a small hug, it makes me forget everything else after one of those.

0) Levi is the personification of the Energiser Bunny that fires up when your energy light is blinking on empty. What’s that you want to rest your feet for a few minutes, sorry you are now my horsey and must trot around the house with Levi holding on the back. Great fun… sometimes.

Levi Alexzander water bottle smiling

Levi Alexzander - Big eyed

Sydney – Botanical Gardens

September 30, 2014

Working in the heart of Sydney has its many benefits, this week has uncovered a trove more. I am already rewarded with a huge shopping venue situated below my feet, a bustling plaza that attracts an eclectic group of performance artists and the convenience of a public transport system walking distance away. But I am also now privileged to be working so close to the vast areas of preserved greenery situated so peacefully within the bustling city. Across from my place of work is Hyde park that has captivated me for a while now with its Greek Myth inspired fountain and giant trees enveloping the central walk that intersects the park. That much has been known to me for some time now, I even wanted to have my wedding shoot there, until the photographer complained about a lack of parking options.

If you look on Google maps there is a continuous stretch of preserved vegetation that spans from Hyde park, through to the Domain, and transitions to the Botanical Gardens. These Gardens is what I have been frequenting this past week on my hourly breaks.

Much like Hyde park, the Gardens contains many enormous trees that would have seen numerous seasons, fashion trends and technological developments pass over the years.

I took a picture of this tree that shaded everything in its wide-reaching circumference, others of similar stature had people litters underneath them enjoying the warm weather from the safety of the direct sun. Filter using Google photos.

Botanical Gardens - Sydney

One great thing about the Botanical Gardens is that a lot of the plants are labelled so if something catches your eye and perhaps you are considering incorporating it into your own garden a convenient labelling system will be of great help. The place has a good selection of unique trees, flowers, shrubs, palms, ferns etc.

I took a picture of these flowers that had bulb like heads on top on them.Sydney - Botanical Gardens - Flowers

This cool looking greenhouse pyramid sits inside the park. Looks like its not open to the public until 2016…DSC_0246-EFFECTS

Here is me looking back at Centre Point, seeing how far I have travelled.Sydney Botanical Gardens - City View

Hope this has inspired others to go check out more of the city you work and live in, and see those places that you may never have considered checking out before. The warm weather this past week has made the experience so much more enjoyable and it will only keep getting warmer, so go on.

EDIT

Here is other shot I took on separate day of this week

Blossoms Sydney Botanical Gardens

My Movie Watching Habits

August 23, 2014

For a while now I have been tagging all the movies that I recall watching on the IMDB website. The list of movies goes back all the way to when I was a child. For each Movie I provide a rating from 1 to 10, with 10 being the sought after rating by movie producers. IMDB provides a bit of data analysis on my movie habits, which I grabbed and chucked into excel,  so Enjoy.

Total number of movies I have seen (recall seeing) is close to 570. I entered a few more before these graphs which I don’t think IMDB captured. Assuming the average length of a film is 2 hours, that comes to a total viewing time of 1140 hours or 47.5 days or just over 1.5 months, talk about a movie marathon

Most movies fall into several genres. What IMDB does is include each movie into all the respective categories it falls under e.g Shaun of the Dead (2004) being both a comedy and horror. glancing at the data, it looks like a big chunk of my movie watching habits fall under Drama & Comedy. I wonder if that is saying that after watching a depressing drama, with tears in my eyes I hurry to put on a comedy to restore my mood to a happy equilibrium? Maybe, or maybe I just like those two genres more that other films.

Sasha's Movies by Genre 2014

As previously mentioned I rank movies from 1 to 10, here are the aggregate rankings I have given to all my films. It looks like I am quiet generous with a median of 7.2 and a mode of 7.Believe it or not I have not seen a film that I thought was so bad that it was a plague on society and deserved a rating of 1. I think there is some bias in my data, as I try to research what I want to watch and look at IMDB ratings before hand to get a sense of what to expect. I tend to dismiss films with a ranking below 7, unless they fall under a director I like or have been recommended by someone whose opinion I value.

Sasha's Movies by Ratings 2014

Here is an interesting graph. My movies by the year they were made. As expected the older the film is, the less likely that I have watched it. That is mainly for two reasons: 1) there are just less films in those years and 2) the cinematography appeals less to me with older flicks. I can also see that there is a time lag when it comes to most recent films as I don’t see the value of attending cinemas. I have only seen one film dating to 2014, latest thing to come from the director Wes Anderson – The Grand Budapest Hotel. Something a bit different from the other Hollywood stuff, yet enjoyable. 1999 was big for some reason. Looking at movies I have seen that fall under that year they include: American BeautyThe MatrixBeing John MalkovichElectionStar Wars: Episode I – The Phantom MenaceToy Story 2 etc.

Sasha's Movies by Year 2014

Finally I have already done a post for the IMDB’s top 250 movies, but i am going to revisit it. I tallied up all the films I have seen from the list and those I have not. The count is close to half in favour of those I have not had a chance to experience, but still quiet a valiant effort on my part I must say. How does that compare to last time I looked at this?  It was 96 v 154, somewhat better. Mind you this is a living list, with new movies coming and bumping out other movies that are close to the bottom of the list, so not a true comparison.

Sasha's Movies by Top 250 2014

The Train Shed – Part 2 Video

August 16, 2014

A little video from the Train Shed we went to last week.

https://vimeo.com/103584013

Robin Williams Tribute Post

August 12, 2014

Today we were told of the unfortunate and unexpected passing of Robin Williams. The popularity of the man was evident with the scores of tribute photos and posts that covered my Facebook feed. Most people at least in my generation would have grown-up with films that had Williams as one of the actors. I think nostalgia of youth and the things that brought laughs and entertainment are important aspects to many people’s identities. When someone was instrumental in forming these memories passes, it can be natural to feel a personal loss even though you didn’t have a real life connection to the man.

After the sad news broke today I went onto the man’s profile page on IMDB to see the legacy that he left behind. There is just over 100 titles of movies and TV shows that had one of the actors listed as Robin Williams. There were even a few films that have not even been released yet. The prolific acting career of the man was evident just by the list. But astonishingly Robin Williams was not just an actor but a comedian. I recall watching one of his stand-up shows and amazed how he could deliver 90 minute repertoire with a machine-gun like speed.

Here are my favourite Robin William films that I have seen:

Jumanji (1995) – Loved this movie growing up. The computer effects were top notch for the time. Watching grown-up Williams, his female childhood friend and two kids playing a game that absolutely pummels them with every roll was somehow very appealing to the young me. Oh what’s that you rolled a 7 here take a plague of monkeys!

movie jumanji Robin Williams

Aladdin (1992) Robin Williams playing the voice of Genie without a doubt makes this Disney animations a classic in most peoples eye. Genies over-the-top magic, hilarious eclectic dialogue and constant anachronistic references made the already great cartoon even better.

Aladdin genie

The Birdcage (1996) the premise is this; a gay cabaret owner and his drag queen companion have a son who is engaged to a girl. It is time for both parents to meet for the first time; problem is that her parents are overly conservative and moralistic. This complete mis-match is a recipe for a disaster in anyone’s books, but with Williams on board the situation becomes a laugh out loud comedy.

Bird Cage Williams

Mrs. Doubtfire (1993) Looking at the year of all these movies it looks like the golden age of Robin Williams films were the 90’s. Mrs Doubtfire delivers another dose of Robin this time in a costume of an old female baby-sitter. The movie does have some adult themes of family separation that made this movie a part drama, but there was enough humour to make this another one of my Williams favourites.

Mrs Doubtfire

Hook (1991) Man I was hooked on this film (see what I did there). Just a fantastic kids movie doing a retake of the old Peter Pan story. In it Williams plays a grown-up Pan trying to retake his youth. I remember at the time thinking why would the character want to stay a kid forever, but now all grown up I can see the appeal. Apparently the early reception of the film wasn’t that great, but eventually it develops into a cult-classic.

Hook movie robin williams

 

 

- Other notable movies are

- Good Will hunting (1997)

- Patch Adams (1998)

and

- One Hour Photo (2002)

 

I made it my mission to watch some of the other movies that Williams is famous for. On top of my list are:

- Good morning, Vietnam (1987)

- The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988)

- A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)

and

- Dead Poets Society (1989)

 

If you can recommend anything else i would love to hear it.

The Train Shed – Our Experience

August 2, 2014

As prices of land and the multiplying population stretches the waist of our great city, it forces the belly to bulge perpetually further west expanding urbanisation . Having said that I am constantly amazed that the 40-60 minute commute from the epicentre of this great metropolis is still so close to the rural rustic life. Today we drove South-West to the much discussed location of the second airport. We were not there to say our goodbyes to the cow paddocks or the old rusty fences that stretch the roads leading to the proposed location of the Badgery’s Creek airport, rather we were there to visit a place that is directly affected by the recent government green-lighting of the project.
Charmaine first heard of the place through one of those deals websites that offers tickets at a much reduced price. The place is called ‘The Train Shed’ and the description told of the inevitable requirement to close their doors due to the new zoning regulations.

So before the doors shut completely we decided to take Levi and see what the place was all about. The Train Shed is a miniature train track that brings to life children’s favourite characters from the popular TV show Thomas the Tank Engine. Mind you Levi hasn’t yet caught the Thomas bug and probably can’t differentiate between all the types of trains featured in the show (I can’t blame him last time I checked there were 3 or 4 trains that has the exact same paint-job as Thomas himself, talk about lack of imagination from the producers).

Thomas the Tank Engine - The Train shed

The trains are miniature in size but still large enough to seat comfortably a row of kids and their parents in the cushioned carriages provided. Straddled and controlled by one of the employees (to my amusement usually a 30-40 year old guy with a stern emotionless physic, who probably is counting the minutes before he can escape to the local pub). These trains take the kids and their parents around a specially build track that bends around passing various farm animals and other little features such as creeks and even a tunnel. All this was meant to give the kids the experience of actually riding on Thomas and his posse, which they did a decent job of.
Charmaine took Levi on the first spin as I was busy with the camera snapping away. To my surprise Levi was unphased by the first 8-10 minute ride, keeping a poker face through the whole trip. Next it was my turn to ride with him. As we lined-up to board another one of Thomas’s friends you could see his anticipation building. It began with a concentrated focus on what is going on over the fence, then progressed to pointing and waiving at the passing trains and people. Perhaps all he needed was some warming up to the experience as the second trip proved to be nothing short of a blast. The whole time it was like we voyages into the great unknown. There was constant pointing, smiling and laughing followed-by him telling me in baby babble everything out there that is a must see! At one point Levi even sprang-up ready to jump head first out of the carriage and head towards whatever piece of landscape that caught his eye. When we pulled back-in his joy quickly soured and tears started forming with the realisation the fun was up and it was time for him to get out.
As mentioned each ride takes about 8-10 minutes, but the pricing is very reasonably. The unlimited pass for the child is $35 dollars otherwise it is $6 for every bum on the seat per ride. If you got a kid check it out before it closes later this year.

The Train Shed - Sydney

Charmaine and Levi on the miniature train

Sasha and Levi on the Train Shed train

Levi found the local farm animals intriguing.

Levi Alexzander fascinated with a bull

Levi 17 Months

June 22, 2014

Charmaine and I finally got around to sorting and bagging all the old clothes that Levi doesn’t fit into anymore. Amazingly we didn’t purchase around 95% of the content in the bags. They were all gifts or hand-me-downs from others who were kind enough to give their no longer required stock. We’ll pass on the favour by giving the clothes to Charmaine’s brother and his soon expecting wife.

Baby Clothes

Folding the clothes into 0000 to 0 sizes has finally brought-out in me that feeling that Levi is growing up much too quickly. Charmaine has been lamenting that fact for months now, but I was always firmly in the camp that was excited to see Levi develop quicker. I am much more reserved now in my excitement in seeing him grow. Don’t get me wrong I am looking forward to many more things he will be able to do as he picks up speech, the ability to reason more complex problems and ask question that would even stump me, but let’s take it slow one day at a time. Makes me want to capture more of him each day.

Levi with Pen 2

Levi doing business.

Levi doing business.

Levi with more layers than a Christopher Nolan film.

Levi with more layers than a Christopher Nolan film.

Levi with Pen

Levi with cheeky smirk

Levi with cheeky smirk

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