Are You Ready For Bubs?

I seem to have reached the stage in my pregnancy where a common question is “are you all ready for bubs?”

I think it’s just a way of making small-talk.

But how do you answer that question?

Yes.

No.

Maybe.

Carseat – so we can get home from hospital.  CHECK

Bassinette – reborrowed Mother-In-Laws that most of the grandkids have slept in.  CHECK

Packet of Nappies.  CHECK

Couple of growsuits and singlets.  CHECK

Sling to carry bubs in.  CHECK

Couple of blankets to wrap bubs in / keep warm.  CHECK

I guess we’re kind of ready.

I’m going to need some more singlets and clothes but hoping to get some hand me downs from a neighbour (and maybe a few as gifts).

Have chosen a pram but haven’t bought one yet.

Have bought a few Modern Cloth Nappies to try but probably won’t try any of those in the first month or two.

We’re pretty much taking the simple route this time around.

No much room for too much “stuff”.

And no doubt we’ll accumulate as we go along.

Then there’s the other side of the question.

AM I READY TO HAVE THE BABY?

Not sure.

Giving birth?

Not really.  Although no doubt in another few weeks I’ll be so sick of myself I’ll want it out regardless.

Am I ready to have a baby to look after 24/7?

Cuddles – YES.

The rest (along with single parenting 4 kids due to harvest)?  Not so sure.

But babies are the original players of the game “coming ready or not!”.  😉

I’m sure it’ll all be fine.

Mostly I feel quite casual about the whole thing.

Probably need to think about packing a hospital bag soon I suppose….

Houseboating on a Budget

It’s easy to think of houseboating as a “luxury holiday” and of course, it is if you compare it to something like camping.

Our houseboat owner actually called houseboating the “modern form of camping”.

Fair enough.

So, how much does it cost to hire a houseboat?

It all depends on which one you hire and where you hire from.

Here’s a few things I learnt recently:

1. Most houseboats are similar in size

Most houseboats we looked at were around the 20m x 8m in size, regardless of price and features. A few are slightly wider.  Some have a second story with extra rooms BUT had less outdoor area instead.

Features like more bedrooms will cost you more but you end up with smaller rooms and less living space.

Our houseboat was rated for 10 passengers (you can get them up to 12 passengers) but only had 4 rooms so the 2 teenage boys slept on swags in the living area and we put their gear in one of the bedrooms during the day.

One less bedroom and no dishwasher saved us around $1500 over the 4 night hire period.

2.  Less features will save you money

This is one of those things where you need to weigh up your budget vs what will make it a relaxing holiday.  I really wanted to get a houseboat with a dishwasher but there were none available for the time frame we were looking to book.

As it turned out, it really wasn’t necessary.  Our kids are old enough that for breakfast and lunch, we did a “wash your own dishes” and for each of the 3 evening meals we had on the boat, 1 pair of kids (1 from each family – much more fun doing dishes with a friend than a sibling) did the dishes.  The adults did the extra bits and pieces in between.

And in all honesty?  Doing dishes while you’re cruising down the River Murray is much less monotonous than at home (and we had a large open plan living area so you were still part of the “fun”).  We did keep meals pretty simple (as you do on holidays) so we didn’t have a lot of cooking or preparation dishes to do.

3.  Share the costs by taking a group

We had 2 families so had half the costs each.  4 couples would make it even cheaper.  Most houseboats have “zip beds” that can be made into either a queen or 2 singles depending on the configuration of your group.

4.  Head away from towns

We headed North into the National Park where there were less houseboats, more places to moor and less shops.  For 3 days we happily holidayed without spending anything (other than what we had already paid in food).  On the last day we moored in Renmark and I spent $200. $100 on shopping – which was mostly just clothes for the kids since we don’t live near shops so no major issue.  $100 on eating out.  Again, not a problem as it was planned and most enjoyable.  But if you’re after a “cheap” holiday, not something you need to do.

5.  Avoid peak seasons

Houseboat companies seem to have 3 pricing structures for their hire.  Peak, Off-Peak and Normal.

We went in the middle pricing so it wasn’t the cheapest but wasn’t the most expensive either.

6.  Be prepared to drive further

I started looking into hiring a houseboat from Mannum for another trip (somewhere different).

I was surprised to find that a similar houseboat from towns closer to Adelaide were around $1000 more over a 4 night period than those from places like Renmark.

Being prepared to drive an extra 100km or so could really save some $$$ (I know fuel isn’t cheap these days but you can still drive a fair way for $1000).  It certainly pays to shop around.

How much did it cost us?

The Corrobinnie from Warriuka Houseboats was $1385 for 4 nights.

From what I can gather, that’s a set price for the boat (no paying extra per person).

Around $173 per night per family.

A similar price to a mid-range cabin for our family these days.  If you take into account that they provide linen for ALL the beds whereas a cabin you either bring your own for the kids or pay extra, it’s actually cheaper than a cabin.

You do have to pay for the fuel you use on top of this figure (can’t tell you yet how much we used as still waiting to find out).  They also require a reasonable size cash bond which they take expenses like the fuel out of before refunding the rest (this is what we’re still waiting on – takes a week to process plus postage time).

If you divided it amongst 4 couples instead, you’d be paying $86.50 a night.  Pretty good value if you ask me!

What About Meals?

We kept our meals pretty simple yet delicious.

Most houseboat plans I’ve seen include a BBQ so our evening meals were all cooked on the bbq.

We had variety by cooking different meats on different nights.

We had bacon and eggs for breakfast a couple of times and our friends took pancakes for breakfast – again cooked on the bbq.

Lunches were mostly ham and salad wraps.

Some fruit, dip, nice cheeses and crackers and a few other bits and pieces and we were pretty set for the time we were on the boat.  Plus drinks (I’m sure we had a LOT less alcohol than most people take!).

Some people prefer to combine all their food together.

We chose to keep it separate (but work out similar meals).  It was just easier to manage that way.  I knew what I had for my kids to eat and could balance their intake of “junk” vs “real food”.  And with special dietary requirements for our friends child, I could relax knowing my kids weren’t accidentally eating her food and leaving her with nothing to have.

The boat had 2 fridges and enough cupboard space for us to do this easily.

Extras

I was pretty impressed with a few of the “extra touches” on the boat.

They provided laundry facilities (which was great as I knew we didn’t need to “overpack” as I could wash if needed – I didn’t need to but it was nice to have the option).

The boat was fully air conditioned and had heating facilities as well.  We had to run the generator to run the air conditioning and other power operated appliances (fridges and oven was gas though).

They provided magazines, books and a selection of DVD’s.

The couch and beds were really comfy and didn’t seem at all “cheap” or “old”.  Made the time really comfortable.  The coach even had 2 recliners which was AMAZING for my pregnant body – to be able to easily put my feet up.

And one of the things I appreciated most?  The had a really decent vegetable peeler!  I’d meant to bring my own because I hate the 99c ones provided by most accommodation.  Every time I used it it made me smile (and I made around 3kg of potato salad so I used it quite a bit!).  Funny how the small touches can often make a big difference.

Houseboat Heaven

Our 4 days on the houseboat were some of the most relaxing I think I’ve ever had.  There is something so soothing about gliding down the river with all the convenience of home right there with you.

Taking a nap is easy.

As long as you’re not the one driving at the time:

Getting lunch with spectacular views out the windows hardly seemed like a chore!

And when the day is drawing to a close:

There’s nothing like a campfire by the river!

Or for a classier finish to the day:

Pull up in front of the Renmark Hotel and go out for dinner!  (can highly recommend – was a fabulous meal!).

As you may be able to tell, we had an AWESOME time while away.

With great company!

If you’ve ever considered going on a houseboat and not done it yet, I can highly recommended it.

We’re definitely going to have to go again!

It gets the big thumbs up from me!

Heading Up The River

I won’t be posting for a few days as we’re off with some friends for a couple of days on the Murray River in a houseboat.

To say the kids are excited could be an understatement. 😉

It’s something Farmboy and I have always said we’d like to do.

But it somehow seems a bit surreal to be actually doing it.

I think because it all came about from a casual conversation with friends about wanting to go up the river this holidays.

I’m hoping it will be a nice relaxing way to spend our last holiday before bubs. 🙂

The weather looks like being warm but not too bad so it should be lovely on the water.

Be back soon with some pics. 🙂

Very Simple Peanut Butter and Choc Chip Cookies (Biscuits)

As a bonus for me, this recipe has NO FLOUR so I can eat them guilt free.

Well, not totally “guilt free” given the high level of sugar and fat!

However, I’ve never made a simpler batch of biscuits before.

CHOC CHIP PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES

1 cup peanut butter (I use crunchy as I like pieces of nuts in mine)

1 cup sugar

1 egg

handful of choc chips

Mix together with a spoon.

Place teaspoons full on a tray and press down slightly with a fork (these are VERY sweet so they don’t need to be very big).

Bake in 180C oven until golden brown

Makes approx 2 dozen

Yummiest when eaten warm!!!!!

Time For A Blogroll

Along with losing my own blog, I seem to have lost my feedreader as well.  Meaning NO blogs to read. 😦  Unless people post links on facebook.

SO, I think it’s time to build a blogroll on this here blog.

Could you please leave YOUR blog link in the comments below.

And share 1 or 2 blogs you really LOVE and why you love them.

I need me some blogs to read while I’ve got my feet up!

Taking A Gap Year

My son shared with us over dinner tonight that he’s thinking he’ll take a gap year before going to University.

He’s got 3 years of Secondary Schooling left after this year so we’ve got a while to think about it and discuss it.

But I was surprised to find myself not at all opposed to the idea.

He’s thought it out at least a little.  His idea is to earn some money but also be available to do some Tennis Coaching Coaches courses throughout the year.  Which in turn would give him the ability to earn a part-time income while going through Uni.

I wanted to take a gap year between year 12 and University but my parents were opposed to the idea.  They were concerned I might never go back to Uni. I guess a part of me has the same concerns for Lleyton.

However, for me, I was burnt out from studying and coasted my way through first year, pretty much hating it.  How I passed is beyond me.  Not that I didn’t gain some great friendships and experiences during my time there.  It wasn’t wasted time in any regard (an expensive year of trying to “find myself” mind you – which I had to pay for some 10 years later).

Of course, we will be strongly encouraging him to apply for the course he wants and deferring.  And setting aside some money for when he does go to Uni.

And we’ve said from the outset that he has to support himself if he takes a gap year (ie pay board if he’s still living at home).

What do you think?  Are you a fan of a gap year?  Did you take one?  Would you be happy to support your kids taking one?