When waffle ice cream melts…

Duncan’s story – 2019

Sometimes when you only see friends occasionally (like once a year) you need to tell them the story of your year in short space of time. This is my story for this year.

This was a year in two parts, the first part being all about asking, “Why are we here?” as is, what choices have we made to get into our exact situation we are in and have those been choices we’ve actually made, or ones we fallen into.

A lot of the questioning was driven by the question of why we are struggling financially. What choices have we made that put that kind of strain on us, and is it because we’re following some societal norm we think we need to fulfil? For me that was quite a bleak process to go through.

We watched a documentary on minimalism, had fights about money, questioned what we have and why we have it (like why do we have the particular house we have), questioned what we do and why we do it (like why do we send our kids to the particular school we do), questioned our short term choices (like what actually drives us to buy things in the way we do and when we do, and what allows us to make those often poor choices).

What was interesting is that at the end of it, I am happy with the choices we’ve made. Sure, we make some poor short term choices, but I came out of the process with a sense of peace, as well as a commitment to fight for the absolutely amazing life we do have. It also receive focussed and on the most important things, like really making more time to create memories together.

One very tangible thing we did together was save for a family holiday. We all (kids included) worked together and contributed to a wonderful time at Jamaka.

Alongside this there was a process happening with our largest business customer and they gave Engineer Simplicity and official role in their business structure. Practically there was not any real change to our responsibilities but it did recognise the role we play in their business. For me, this changed my whole mental space.

For various reasons I had felt on the back foot and the official recognition changed my whole mindset in the situation. It felt like a recognition of the work we do and gave me the confidence and freedom to produce even better work. The responsibility also contributed to a greater commitment and ownership of the product that we develop for them.

I do feel that as a team we have produced good work this year and I’m excited about what we will achieve going forward.

The greater level of responsibility did mean that we didn’t spend as much time as we should have moving our own projects forward, but we have very slowly chipped away at our long term business goals and I’ve learnt loads of things through the process and been able to bring a different way of thinking about problems into our everyday work.

I’ve had a contentment in the second part of the year. We’ve been consolidating a few things so I’ve had a focus on stability. It has been good to be peaceful.

I’ve gotten quite into my mountain biking this year and that has been a really good thing for me. Time on the bike has been good for my body and mind. I’ve also made extra time (or stolen time away) to ride with our kids once a week and to ride with DonnĂ© once a week. Even though I’ve stolen some time, I’ve still been just as productive.

I think that after the first part of the year I’ve really focussed on being content with the wonderful life we have. I’m still hungry to achieve the goals I have, but there has been a different sense of being content which has been a bit weird for me.

It is almost like I have had this restless sense of push forward, push forward, but this year hasn’t been like that. I feel like I’ve breathed in the mountain air, lifted up my head and looked around to enjoy the view. Even with that I still do worry and ask myself, “If I’m content, will I push hard enough to get where I want to be?”

There is always so much more, but I think that is pretty much it. I’ve had a good year. I’ve questioned my life and tried to be intentional about the choices we make. I’ve had a good year and felt content with our lives. I’m happy with the work I’ve produced. We’ve been very fortunate and the business has done well and been able to support us.

We are blessed and I am truly greatful for what we have and how we get to live our loves. May we use it well in the year ahead.

Raucous radio racing

Gogo and Gramps got Adam a radio controlled car and Grace and Eli motorised technics lego (Cada deTech) which they finished building….which meant it was time to put it to the test with some serious racing (and laughing so much that people just about wet themselves)


There is a little beautifully maintained park, with a seesaw and our kids were having fun on it.

I loved the pure joy at bouncing off the seat.

As so often happens, we didn’t exit well, but we’re working on it and we’ve definitely gotten better at exiting over the past year.

Christmas carols

Grace, Eli and Adam organised Christmas carols for us….and I think this may be the start of a new tradition.

For story time we did an improv version of the nativity, including the birthing of a teddy bear baby Jesus. I think next year will be the three siblings turn to put on the nativity.

Making charity stuffed bears with granny

Attack of the stuffed bear!

Windsock man

This is Grace being a silly windsock man

And Grace being what she calls, “I am too fancy to look at you”

How (not) to zipline

Holiday time again and we travelled safely to JBay.

One of our stops is at Timberlake outside of Wilderness where they have a funky little zipline on the jungle gym. They’ve installed a new stopping mechanism….

Newberry’s got talent

There has been lots of practicing and preparation, but tonight it arrived and both Eli and Grace performed excellently in the school concert.

Grace has been practicing over and over again with Melano and because they have mostly practiced at school it was quite a surprise to hear how good it all sounded together.

We’ve been practicing with Eli and helping him get all the words and directions committed to memory and he has been working on his delivery and his card tricks all went perfectly.

Survival party 2019

This year the boys had a combined party to celebrate their birthdays. After much debate they settled on a survival style party.

Pre-party silliness in their cool shark t-shirts from Gogo and Gramps

I made a campfire style cake, which was so much fun making. I tried a new cake recipe, an oreo vanilla cake which was super delicious!

Adam checking out the cake. He was a bit disappointed that the river didn’t flow around the whole cake but loved the candle in the campfire.

Duncan organised various obstacles with the boys. On arrival they all decorated sticks to make their own darts. Much fun was had adding feathers and wrapping them with insulation tape.

These two little dudes, Christian and Liam were the only two friends Adam wanted to come, so he was very happy they both could be there.

Duncan showing the kids how to do a Shear Lashing with their sticks!

Each child was given a bag to collect various scavenger hunt treasures!

After each obstacle they were given a bag with a tile in it.

No survival party would be complete without some rabbit droppings to eat!

Ziplining is always a hit

And a walk across the balance beam wasn’t as easy as it looked but all the kids kept at it until they succeeded!

I think besides the ziplining the garden darts was the most popular activity. They had to score 600 as a team.

To finish off they had to use their lashed sticks and make a plan to get the last bag out the tree. It was awesome seeing them working together and coming up with different ideas to knock the bag out the tree.

It was a great afternoon and fun was had by all! With all the tiles they had collected they had to decode the word “campfire”

The Ropeyard

We took Eli (and the siblings) to The Ropeyard for his birthday.

Decked out and ready to go

Mr super cute

First steps

Ads did the green course and Eli and Grace did the blue course…which was slightly higher than Grace was comfortable with.

Grace struggled a bit with some of the bits. She was excited before, but when she got up there she really started to struggle a bit. Even with the challenges she made it through with her summary, “Terrible but awesome.”

Eli just got on with it and had loads of fun.

And little Ads had a blast on his course and going down the zipline over and over.