Sealife Sydney Aquarium – Darling Harbour

Sealife Sydney Aquarium is located in Darling Harbour (a short stroll from the Starbucks – thank goodness), in the same area as Madam Tussauds and WildLife. The official address is 1 – 5 Wheat Road, Sydney, 2000. I would consider public transport to the Aquarium as parking can be on the expensive side unless you find a good deal on the Wilsons Parking Garage in Darling Harbour (Website link here). 

We’ve been twice in the last year and it is definitely a worthwhile visit if you can get the tickets on Groupon (I’m still in two minds as to whether I would pay full price  when there are so many other great things in that price bracket). 

Tickets are generally $40 but you can get them online from Sealife Website. The website says you can get them as cheap as $28 but I haven’t been successful in getting that cheap outside of Groupon. We got tickets on two separate occasions from Groupon for $26 due to a Groupon sale (winning I tell you!)

My favourite parts of the Aquarium are when you walk through through the underwater tunnels and you watch the animals swim over you. I just love it. When my littlest was just 5 months we took her and lay her pram back so she could just watch the fish above her – she was utterly mesmerized (hoping for a marine biologist in the making, kidding, not really 🙂 ). 

My second Favourite part (because this is clearly all about me living vicariously through my kids) is the Dugongs. I love love Dugongs. I don’t think I have any pics because I get too excited trying to explain them to the kids. 

   
   
Aside from the tunnels there are plenty to see:

  • Displays of sea horses, jelly fish, shrimps, penguins, turtles and plenty more. 
  • Little exhibits designed for children (my 3.5 year old was much more interested at this age than he was at 2.5)
  • Nemos and Dorys aplenty (as a parent – you get how cool this is)
  • Glass bridge with fish underneath
  • An area where you can colour in a picture of a fish, scan it in and it appears on the wall with all the other computed fish
  • A touchable display – you can actually let your little ones touch a starfish. 

There is a whole lot to see and I find that the kids are ready to go just after half way through (45 minutes in) so be prepared for some moaning if you stop to look at everything.

The whole Aquarium is pram friendly and it’s definitely manageable by one parent with two kids in tow.  

It’s a great way to spend a rainy day with your little ones. Just be careful of the shop on the way out – there are many many bright and colorful objects your child may try take home. 

Centennial Park: Great Easter Egg Hunt 

Happy Easter one and all. This year we tried out the Centennial Park: Great Easter Egg Hunt and I reckon it’s going to become an annual event. The kids loved it and it made for a lovely memory to have of our first Easter in Sydney.

And hey, if it attracts Nicole Kidman and her kids it must be doing something right 😉

Essentially what it is, is a few obstacles the children complete in order to get a stamp and a little Easter egg after which they meet the Easter Bunny and Easter Bilby, show they’ve completed the obstacles and receive a big Darrell Lea Easter egg. Needless to say our 1 year old did not complete the obstacles, she desperately wanted to but couldn’t yet still received her MASSIVE (massive to her) Easter Egg. 

  
A ticket entitles you to a map and a photo with the Easter Bunny and Easter Bilby. However, do not be fooled, you take your own picture… I thought we would get a photograph out of the whole shebang. I bought a ticket for our 1 year old despite her not really participating but I knew she’d want to get in on the action.

We bought the tickets well in advance online (from Eventbrite) for $17 a child. We received the email ticket, printed it out and took it with us to the event. This was however seemingly unnecessary as they had our kids’ names down on the list. You have a 15 minute window within which to start the hunt but it took us no time at all to present ourselves outside of the education Centre, pick up our map and get over to the first obstacle. 

The obstacles were so cute: 

   
   

   
  
Coming in from Sydney’s North Shore we planned an hour for traffic thinking that there would be swarms of people but there weren’t and the traffic was not an issue. The parking, also not bad – we got to park just outside the Education Centre on Dickens Drive. 

Next year I reckon we’ll book an earlier slot, early morning and take a picnic and have lunch at the Park. 

   
    
  

Blue Mountains: Scenic World

What a great day out! When my parents were visiting from South Africa we took them off to the Blue Mountains, without a clue as to what to expect I had read somewhere to try Scenic World and I am so glad we did, even though it poured with rain.

Scenic World is in Katoomba, the exact address is cnr Violet and Cliff Drive, Katoomba NSW 2780, NSW. Without traffic it should take about 1 hour and 40 minutes from Sydney’s North Shore. There is parking onsite.

We booked our tickets in advance online as the in the days leading up to our visit the tickets had been sold out way in advance. There is however a surcharge for the online bookings. I think it is in the region of $4 or $5 but its worth buying them to not have to drive all the way there and have to turn back.

At the “Visitor’s Centre” you can get coffee and food so there is no need to stop on the way there.

Standard tickets (outside of Easter Holiday period and Christmas Holiday period) for Scenic World for adults are $35, children (over 4 years old) $18 and a family ticket  (2 adults and 5 children up to 14 years old) is $88.

It is well worth the ticket price because of the great ‘activities’ that are available. There are four main ‘activities’ within Scenic World.

RAILWAY

The Railway is the steepest passenger train in the world. In the world. It goes at a 52 degree incline but you can decrease the degree of your seat to make it less steep. Its about 550 meters into the Jamison Valley… I was petrified of this but it actually wasn’t so bad. My little 3 year old loved it and screamed his lungs out in excitement.

The Railway takes you from the top entrance down into the valley past Orphan Rock.

It is not possible to take a pram on this ride but you can hold your little one on your lap or alongside you and I think its safe, we weren’t warned against this.

Going back up, from the valley up to the Top Station is far more daunting as you go backwards but it is still not so bad 🙂 I didn’t even hate it.

From the Railway you can walk around the valley and then take a return trip or you can make your way to the cableway and use that to go back up.

This ride is also not wheelchair friendly.

SKYWAY

With its huge windows and glass bottom, the skyway is an awesome way to see the Three Sisters, Mount Solitary and the Katoomba Falls.

The skyway is pram friendly but the space is quite cramped so its difficult to manoeuvre.

CABLEWAY

The cableway down is, according to Scenic World, the biggest cable car in Australia. It is quite large and fits a lot of people unfortunately there are not many seats so expect to stand the whole way down – not good if you are trying to avoid thinking about the heights.

The cableway is pram friendly.

WALKWAY

The walkway at the bottom of the valley is magnificent. It is like being a million miles away from Sydney, in some tropical rainforest. According to Scenic World, the walkway is the longest elevated boardwalk in Australia 🙂

You can determine the length of the walk that you want to take as there are various options. If you’re travelling with a pram and want to walk around the Valley take the Cableway down so that you can use your pram.

There are things to look at relating to the mining history of the area or the flora that are well signposted every couple of metres- interesting for adults and children alike. My son kept stopping me and asking me what every board said.

Some things to remember:

  • Open from 9am – 5pm
  • There are no toilets at the end of the rides so make sure to use the bathrooms at the ‘visitors centre’.
  • Last ride is at 4:50PM
  • Needless to say: wear comfortable walking shoes, take some snacks, water / juices and if it looks like rain a poncho or jacket.

Brightmore Reserve, Cremorne (trike park and playground)

Last weekend, while dad got a lie in, I took the kids to Brightmore Reserve in Cremorne. I had read that it had a great little trike path and I wanted to check it out myself. 
Brightmore Reserve is opposite Primrose Park (if you know where that is 🙂 ). The address I got off Google before setting off was 1 – 13 Little Wonga Road, Cremorne. This took me quite a convoluted way. When we go back next time I will put Young Street or Wonga Road in as these two meet at the park entrance. 

   
   
There is plenty of parking across the road, if you get there early. By the time we left at 11:00 the playground and trike park were pumping. 

The cycle park is awesome, it has petrol fill up station, pedestrian crossing and places to stop and visit or drive through. Added to that are the fire engine and ambulance which you can ride on. 

   
   

 The playground is pretty and functional – swings, a slide, balance surfboard and a miniature see-saw. 
   
   
There are a few benches and tables and when we were there a birthday party was in progress. Caused a bit of chaos for the children not invited who were desperate for octanaut balloons. Shady and flat large grassy pieces make for perfect picnic spots. 

This is a great park for playground purposes, trike purposes and picnics. It is suitable for little ones and toddlers. The only downside to the park is that there are no toilets yet, but they are in construction according to a sign on the playground gate. 

An ode to early mornings

(Sung to the tune of piano man by Billy Joel)

It’s 5am on a Thursday morning,

The regular crowd shuffles in,

Rachel whose one and Miller whose three,

I can hear the garbage truck,

the day is about to begin.

 

Read me a story my mommy,

Read me a story right now,

I need some milk too and a dummy, 

And fit us both on your lap somehow. 

It may not be light outside just yet,

But don’t let that get you down,

Mom, can we have some toast and tea,

It’s really not too early you see,

Mummum, mumum goes the baby,

As she clearly agrees. 

Read me a story my daddy,

Read me a story right now,

I need some milk too and a dummy, 

And fit us both on your lap somehow. 

Daddy, mommy is pretending to sleep,

And I need to do a wee, 

Okay come on son let’s go to the loo,

Wait daddy I think it’s actually a poo,

No wait it’s nothing at all.

Read me a story my mommy,

Read me a story right now,

I need some milk too and a dummy, 

And fit us both on your lap somehow. 

Hey look, everyone now is awake,

And the sun is now up too,

Why are you lying in bed mom and dad,

When there are things to be done and said.

Feeding a fussy toddler

Immediate disclaimer: I am not a doctor, I am not a nutritionist nor a dietician. None of my ideas are based on science or medical research, they are just thoughts that I am letting out into the universe. 

Its all fights and negotiations with our 3 year old and it feels like it has been for years. Its ridiculous – you put so much effort into creating amazing meals for them only for them to be rejected outright or flung all over the place. 

I was so pedantic about how I introduced solids – you know the regime rice cereal followed by white veggies, then the green, then yellow finally orange and red before moving onto fruit. The perfect structure thought out and planned so that my son would not eat only fruit or sweet vegetables. And it worked, it worked for a few months until I was working full time again and I was no longer around to feed him any of his meals… (cue dramatic music) At that point in our lives we lived in South Africa and had a woman that lived with us to look after our son and she fed him all his meals and spent all day with him. She was wonderful with him and I really miss him having her around but the downside (aside from her being very very anti discipline) was that she would feed him until  the food was finished rather than feed him until he needed no more.

Now, that is my excuse for having a dreadful eater and I’m sticking to my story, well until my 1 year old becomes a dreadful eater, should that happen I will just have to admit that it is all my fault and I’m horrible at this parenting thing 🙂

Having set the scene of our struggles, I’m going to share some of the things we have done to try encourage our son to eat in the hopes that someone else has some luck and for at least one night has one less fight with their toddler.

  1. Try adding texture to the food. My 1 year old hates anything that could have one been mushy so I add some of our dinner from the previous night cut finely or (and I know this sounds bizarre) add some rice bubbles (rice crispies in South Africa) or some pasta.
  2. Try little portions of different foods on the same plate. My son loves red capsicum so I will give him some of his dinner with cut up capsicum or baked butternut cut into pieces. I know that if those are on the plate we can alternate between the different portions.
  3. Water or juice or cows milk in between bites. I don’t know what magic water holds but my son goes through stages of loving having water and left over bits of food in his mouth like a cement mixer. Its disgusting to imagine so I ignore the mental images and let him have some water at dinner or juice with his lunch.
  4. Feeding earlier. I have found that feeding my 3 year old between 5:30 and 6pm helps him eat. He’s not ridiculously tired yet and can make it through dinner without a meltdown. If you are picking your kids up late from daycare you can have left overs from the night before for dinner or sandwiches (if they get a decent meal at daycare or school).
  5. Give the meal a creative name. Its amazing what children will eat if they think its cool. You can reference the meal itself like ‘crazy crazy meatballs with lazy lazy spaghetti’ or you could call it “paw patrol porridge’ – you get my drift.
  6. Try a pre-cooked or easy cook meal. We have tried and succeeded with the Annabel Karmel range which is available from Coles which are wholesome meals with hidden veggies.
  7. Pretend take away food. My son loves chicken nuggets, I think he would eat them three times a day for a month if he could and some days I wonder if this is not the simple solution. What we have done instead is make our own chicken nuggets with chicken breast and breadcrumbs and cook them up in the oven. The other option is a store bought box of frozen nuggets made from chicken breast. With nuggets you can add almost any veggie and make them have a bite of veggies for every nugget. As with chicken nuggets there is also store bought frozen fish (fish fingers but in the shape of fish) with hidden veggies. These I find really helpful when I don’t have the energy or strength to make anything else.
  8. Cutting food into shapes. This is an age old favourite that I know my mother did with us. You can cut sandwiches into almost any shape, especially with the new super fancy sandwich cutters.  Vegetables can take on amazing shapes too but I am no culinary artist so we stick to triangles, circles, squares, hearts and stars. This may also sound bizarre but if you have playdoh cutters/shapes you can wash those a few times and then use them to cut up sandwiches, fruit and veg. Dont forget you can also make shapes / pictures by the way you arrange the food on the plate but this I only resort to in desperate times because i’m not that creative.
  9. Adding homemade sauce. My son loves ketchup, he calls it “tomatey sauce” and if I left my husband to feed him, our son would have ketchup on everything every mealtime. The way to get around this is to make up a mix of homemade sauce of any variety which you can store in the fridge and apply when necessary. If you’re making it – you know what is going into it! I make up one with tomato, red pepper, onion and garlic and its a hit. The other options are a basil sauce, mayo or sweet chilli sauce (we call it jam because he’ll eat anything with jam on).
  10. Making their eating place a special place. My son has his designated place mat at the table and that is where he eats all his meals. He also has a range of cutlery, plates and bowls which he choses from before I serve up his dinner. I find its okay to give him choice but not to much choice – so I will present him with two plates and he can choose from those.
  11. Eating what mom and dad have eaten. Now that my son is a bit older I make up a little extra of what we have had from the night before and I tell him that he’s having exactly what mom and dad had because he is such a big boy now. This does the trick in encouraging him to eat new things.
  12. Involve your child in the cooking or serving process. I find that if my son thinks he helped make it he thinks it tastes amazing. Now the problem with this is that it is so time consuming so you need to save it for a day when you’re not working and they’re not a day care otherwise it’ll be 9pm and no one will be bathed.
  13. Decrease formula consumption. The caveat here is only decrease formula consumption at the advice of your doctor or medical professional. We were told to do this at one stage by the paediatrician because our son was relying on his formula in place of food.

At the end of the day, if none of this works, just give them a piece of cheese, some ham and an apple – that’s what we did tonight 🙂

IMG_3995
Amazing how a babychino goes down so easily.

 

 

What we keep in our medicine chest 

Again, a disclaimer 🙂 DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor, nurse nor any form of medical specialist.

 I’m just a mom of two small kids who has been through a few hospitalizations and horrible illnesses with them. While these two are generally healthy immigrating has seemed to have knocked them hard and when they get something they achieve the sickness with the acumen of a Fortune 500 CEO. 

Thus, I have a medicine chest, it used to be a box, then two boxes and now it’s a chest. I try cover as much of the unknown as I can but I’m not always covered because then it would be the ‘known’ as opposed the the ‘unknown’ 🙂 and with a little boy… you just never know what they’re about to find, touch or discover. Yay for us parents!!

I’m not advocating for brands but rather the type of medication you need so where I refer to a brand it’s only to utilize an example, what you choose to buy is up to you:

  1. Plasters (always good to start a list with the stuff you have already, it’s an immediate win).
  2. Two different types of pain meds – you want to have a paracetamol based pain med and a ibprofen because they work on different systems in the body and if you can’t get one two work you can use them in conjunction with each other – under the direction of your medical practitioner. It also helps to have two different flavors of panadol in case, in an emergency or in the middle of the night, your child suddenly decides they detest the taste of strawberry. Been there done that. 
  3. A saline solution for flushing out the nose. When you buy it make sure you read the information on the box carefully, sometimes it says ‘Saline Solution’ and you think it’s only saline but it has other stuff added. The smaller your babe, the less of the other stuff you want in. 
  4. Burnaid or a burn shield. 
  5. An antihistamine. There is nothing worse than picking up your child from school and they’re blotchy all over and you’ve got no clue what it’s from. 
  6. A topical antihistamine cream for localized rashes.
  7. Hydralyte. If you’re stuck at home alone and you’ve got children vomitting everywhere it’s not so easy to go out and get them something. You can get a box of iceypoles that you can pop into the fridge. These are a winner in our home the children fight over these like they’re Zooper Doopers, even if they’re not sick. 
  8. Antibacterial wipes, solution or cream. With kids there is always going to be a fall, scrap or scratch in the future, well with us at least. 
  9. Bandage. You won’t believe the number of circumstances you may need a bandage in – snake bite to twisted ankle or hurt hand. 
  10. Throat lozenges. These come in all shapes and sizes. We’ve started using the ones that look like lollipops as it is waaay easier to convince a toddler to use it. 
  11. Syringes and medicine spoons aplenty. In our house these hang out with the pile of missing socks and tupperwares – we wouldn’t know where to look, especially in the middle of the night if they weren’t all in the medicine chest. 
  12. Digital thermometer if you can afford one. We have one that goes on the ear but only because that was all that was available at the time. If I was to buy now I would definitely look into that versus the forehead one.

The above are just the basics and what I replenish if we run out. Your basics will depend on the needs of your kids and their past medical history I suppose. 

I’ve got a whole host of other things because I’m a little strange – tweezers (for splinters and other nasties that get stuck), specimen bottles for bladder infection tests (our poor little girl has been down that road), paediatric nose spray (for when noses get really bad), toddler vitamins (just a case of buying on special and stoking up like a hoarder).

That’s also just the children section 🙂 I know, now OTT in the adult section we have anti-nausea, anti-cramping, cough syrup, anti-bacterial mouthwash, flu medication, transact patches, decompression socks. And everything has been used before. I’m actually not sure that’s a good thing – I mean it’s tried and tested (sounds way better now). 

Thanks for reading and if you feel there is something in your medicine chest which is a ‘need to have’ please add it to the comments section. It’s always good to be over prepared I when it comes to kids being sick. 

    developing Easter Family Traditions

    As a child Easter Sunday was special, the ten minute drive from church to home was the start of the Easter Egg hunt. The drive home was spent trying to spot the Easter Bunny, somehow it was always mom and dad who spotted him. A window seat was the converted place to be – who wants to be in the middle looking in the back of someone’s head when you could have a prime viewing position. Once at home we’d have to walk around the block – the long way round, through the park – to find the Easter Bunny but by the time we got home he’d already left, leaving Easter eggs and chocolates hidden all over the garden. 

    The Easter Egg hunt continued way into adulthood and now is something I enjoy with my own kids. They’re too small to walk around the block so I have to hide the eggs while they watch a quick tv show instead (excellent parenting – let them watch tv so that they can be hyped up on chocolate later). 

    My husband also makes bunny prints using flour and then takes photos to show the kids that the Easter Bunny came to visit.

    I think it’s great to have traditions with your family, either something that’s been passed on or something that you start as a family now. Should you be looking for your own new tradition here are a few of my thoughts:

    1. Easter egg hunt. Surely this is on the top of most lists. With ours it’s not just eggs but chocolate for adults and a toy for the kids, just something small. Everything gets hidden in the garden, at this stage in a small section but as the kids grow so too will the search region. 
    2. Easter picnic. The weather in Sydney in great this time of year and Easter is a special family time so remove yourselves from TVs / phones and iPads and head outdoors to enjoy a bite together. 
    3. An Easter Show. Across the world Eater time seems to bring with it a carnival / festival or show of some sort. I know families that have gone to the same festival year in year out since they were little kids. Sydney has the Royal Easter Show and the Easter Parade amongst other events. 
    4. Easter tea complete with hot cross buns. Traditionally, hot cross buns used to only be eaten on Good Friday but if you’re like me, you’ll try eat as many as humanly possible by the time you see them in the shops and then swear them off forever.
    5. Family roast lunch. This would be similar to your Christmas lunch I suppose. It’s a nice excuse to get all the family together. 
    6. Deliver Easter cards to your neighbors – a bit random but a nice thought and a fun walk for the kids. 
    7. Make Easter baskets for one another and then open them up after breakfast in lieu of having an Easter Egg hunt. You get so many different types of nice baskets in the stores or you could have the kids decorate them – would make for a great craft afternoon! 
    8. Attending a church service together. I know up north in St Ives North there is a great family church which even has tea in the middle of the service. 
    9. Watch an Easter Movie together, there are a number of movies regardless of beliefs or tastes (Hop, It’s The Easter Beagle Charlie Brown, Springtime with Roo, The Dog who saved Easter and it can’t go unmentioned although not for kids: Passion of the Christ).
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    Easter bonnet for Day Care

     

    East Lindfield Park…

    Very underwhelming is how I would describe the much raved over East Lindfield Park.  

    The address that I picked up on a quick Google search is 8 Wellington, East Lindfield but you can also use 13-15 Hughes Pl, East Lindfield NSW 2070.

      
    The playground isn’t big but it has the basics – a climbing frame with a slide, a variation on a swing and an unconventional see-saw (the last picture below is of the weird see-saw). My 3 year old managed everything with a bit of assistance to get up the climbing rope. My 1 year old was desperate to get involved and yelled until I put her on the ‘see-saw’ and let her have a slide. The 18 month old we were with tried his hand at everything and enjoyed himself. 

    As the park reflects on a number of websites and there is the Deli in the Park adjacent to the park the playround is generally quite busy. 

       
       

    The other good aspects of East Lindfield Park (other than the enclosed playground) are: 

    • Good grassy areas with plenty of shade
    • Plenty of parking (you don’t need a parking ticket but it is limited to 2 hours)
    • A little shopping Centre that houses an IGA, butchery, bakery, chemist and green grocer
    • Deli in the park  http://www.deliinthepark.com.au

    We took a picnic blanket, bought some great quality fruit from the green grocer and sat just outside the playground. My son was able to come and go as he pleases and I could see with our baby and watch him. 

    We did have a few close encounters with cheeky birds who tried to eat the biscuits we had brought so I would be careful to keep your food covered if you take a picnic. 

    East Lindfield Park is nice but it’s not fantastic. I wouldn’t drive more than 10 minutes to get there, if there is a park close to you with an enclosed playground rather go there.

    the very cool Australian National Maritime Museum

    The Australian National Maritime Museum is well worth a visit on an overcast day! Situated at 2 Murray Street, Darling Harbour, Sydney NSW 2000 its across the water from SeaLife etc and just beyond the Harbourside Shopping Centre. 

    We parked at the Harbourside Car Park operated by Wilson (100 Murray Street, Pyrmont) and then walked through Harbourside shopping Centre. If the weather is good bypass the shopping Centre and walk along the wharf. Museum visitors can park all day for $14 BUT  you must must remember to get your parking ticket stamped at the museum reception.

    You’re going to want to wear flat, non-slip shoes.

    It seems the ANMM is only closed on Christmas Day and open  9:30 am – 5pm every day (in January its open until 6pm). Everything is wheelchair and pram friendly, except for the vessels themselves, you can’t take a pram on the vessels (or big backpacks – there are lockers for all your big backpack requirements).

    Tickets for all exhibits and the vessels cost are called BIG tickets and cost $30 for adults, $18 for children (ages 4 – 18) and concessions. You can get a family ticket for $75 which is for 2 adults and up to 3 children. You can often get specials on Groupon so I would definitely look there before buying tickets.

    The only limiting factor is that children have to be over 90 centimeters to go on the vessels so if either or any of your children is shorter than this someone will have to stay off the boat. I had to sit with our daughter while my husband went on the vessels with our son, I did get to go on the destroyer though which was awesome.

    There is SO much to see and take it that it is all a bit overwhelming. We only got through 3 of the vessels, at top speed and the exhibits. In hindsight I think 3 is too young to enjoy the full experience but there were portions of the museum (Pirate Exhibition!! Need I say more but if I do need to check out my blog on the Horrible Histories Pirate Exhibition) and the vessels that he just loved. 

    There are guided tours on each of the vessels or you can walk through them yourself or with a tour guide. So, the vessels we got to go on were:

    1. The patrol boat – the HMAS Advance which is an Attack Class Patrol Boat (I have no clue what that means). Volunteers give you personal tours of the boat.
    2. The submarine – the HMAS Onslow
    3. The destroyer – the HMAS Vampire. Last boarding is at 4:10pm and the tours start at 10am and thereafter are every hour and also 10:30 am, 1:30pm, 2:30pm and 3:30pm.

    There is also a lighthouse which is open between 11am to 1:50pm and  3pm to 3:50pm.

    I also spotted a tall ship which looks awesome but my son was having none of it by the time he realised it was nap time. The replica of the Endeavour is usually on the wharves but is out visiting other states until April 2016.

    I’m definitely going to take my dad to check this out when he next visits Sydney although I reckon it’ll take him all day and he’ll still not see it all.