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Seven Days of Music

After seeing a whole lot of CRAP on FaceBook recently (Be Like Bill !?), I was thinking back to when I’d done the “7 songs in 7 days” post series – just before Christmas.

I really enjoyed thinking back to my favourite songs, bands, and which ones to “limit myself” – only SEVEN ?

As it turns out, I hadn’t realised I’d done day #3 – so it’s actually EIGHT posts – oops !    I could have gone for TEN, or maybe more…     LOL !

I wanted to capture them here – easier than trawling back through FB !

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Day 1

Thanks Andy Neumann for the nomination in the "7 songs in 7 days challenge".

I listen to a LOT of music – varying from ‘Sinatra’ to ‘Slayer’.

My main genre is METAL – and I guess the defining band for me, from teenage days would have to be METALLICA.

I remember getting a C-90 cassette in high school, with "Kill Em All" on one side, and "Ride The Lightning" on the other. And I was hooked.

And then "Master Of Puppets" – and "Justice For All" – all of the above in the space of a few months.

I remember going to BRASHS (!) to get the new BLACK album the day it was released – having to ask for it, and they opened a box to hand me the first copy – Brandon Park, 1991.

My favourite song by Metallica would have to be FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS – I love the rollicking riff, and percussive hits from Lars – and who can forget lyrics like "take a look to the sky just before you die, it’s the last time you WILL !"

The classic line-up too – James, Lars, Kirk and CLIFF BURTON.

\m/

** Nomination to Ben Sartori – who I first saw Metallica with in 1993 – on the floor at Rod Laver – we were 2 people from the barrier – and could hear Jason Newstead yelling at us "cmon MF’ers !!"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qdlQyNe_9tE

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Day 2 of "7 songs in 7 days".

I’m treating this challenge as more of "7 BANDS" in 7 days – and want to call out MOTLEY CRÜE.

The year was 1989 – high school, year 12 – and I was discovered many MANY bands.

LA glam rock was the flavour of the time – pre-grunge – and it was MOTLEY CRÜE who started it all.

Then came trashy bands like Poison & Warrant – who I saw live in 89/90 – as well as Ugly Kid Joe, Skid Row – some amazing live shows.

By far – the best live show – was Motley Crüe. The lights & pyro – and Tommy Lee’s drum kit.

This was their "heyday" – excesses of sex, drugs & rock-n-roll – pretty amazing to an 18 year old.

I had cassettes of SHOUT AT THE DEVIL, THEATRE OF PAIN, GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS – and DR FEELGOOD.

I’ve since read the biographies from Nikki Sixx (brilliant) and Vince Neil (meh).

Laugh at the LA glam scene, if you must, but from early 80’s until early 90’s, it was fantastic – a pivotal scene in heavy metal’s evolution.

Hard to pick a best song by THE CRÜE – another option was "Kickstart My Heart"…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGMugNs4ZiM

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Day 3 of the 7-day music challenge

It’s time to talk about HELMET.  

A band that is hard to tag in a genre – neither metal, or grunge or punk – and not really New York hardcore.

PAGE HAMILTON’s voice is very unique, and I love Helmet’s chunk/chug riffs.

I first discovered the album MEANTIME – and classics such as "Unsung", "In The Meantime" and "Ironhead".

And then the amazing BETTY album – with strange samples & distortions – love the songs "Milquetoast" (was in THE CROW movie too) – and "Wilma’s Rainbow".

I saw them live a few times – recent tour was just Page Hamilton + band – he stayed on stage after the show – and spoke to EVERYONE 1-to-1 – shaking hands, posing for photos – a genuine NICE BLOKE of rock.

Thanks HELMET….!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jBfygUiS50g

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Day 3 of the 7 day music challenge

I’m going to lump FOUR specific bands together; today is about GRUNGE.

[oops – I’d already done Day #3 !]

The Seattle sound that exploded onto the world in the early 90’s was a dose of rock, metal and angst – perfect teenager/20-something fodder.
It was nihilistic, distorted, and great to sing loudly. Hardly refined, or musically creative, far from polished – but that was the point. And – I loved it.

Pearl Jam’s TEN, SoundGarden’s BADMOTORFINGER, Alice In Chains’ DIRT, and Nirvana’s NEVERMIND – all of them – classics, and fantastic.

Pearl Jam had more melody and soul/heart – so many great songs. Alive, Jeremy, Once, Even Flow – all stand outs. And the talent within this band is staggering – Eddie Vedder, Mike McCready, Jeff Ament and Stone Gossard – each are masters in their own right. Sadly, PJ are one band I’ve never seen live.

Alice In Chains had some fantastic fat riffs, DIRT had classics like Rooster, Them Bones, Angry Chair and the all time classic WOULD? And then some great acoustic tunes – I Stay Away from JAR OF FLIES is hauntingly beautiful – Layne Stayley’s unique voice has so much soul. I saw them live in late 93, just before moving to Cairns. I crowd surfed, and stage dived – with a gentle PUSH off stage by Layne. (LOL)

Nirvana became a huge obsession for me – I remember buying the NEVERMIND album having heard the buzz online, via chatroom and newsgroups at Uni. This was the early “internet” before WWW days.
I hadn’t even heard the track “Smells Like Teen Spirit”- the first time was when I played the album, bought at Brash’s Chadstone.

I bought BLEACH the following weekend – and was lucky enough to see them live in early 1992. Nirvana’s only Australian tour was booked before they even finished NEVERMIND, and the album hit #1 in the USA as they were arriving down under. It was the calm before the storm for the band, and they played THE PALACE in St.Kilda – a tiny club venue – totally chockers. They also played the first ever Big Day Out, which was a Sydney only event, in it’s first year (92).

I’m sure some of my music friends will have a giggle of derision at the talent of Kurt Cobain (haters gonna hate) – he may not have been a wonderful muso, and a bad druggie, and the band only made a few albums, but they’re all STILL fantastic today, 20 years later. Probably the BIGGEST grunge band – a household name in the genre. I really loved Nirvana, and still do.

But, in my mind, it was SoundGarden who were THE original grunge band – songs from BadMotorFinger like Rusty Cage, Outshined and Drawing Flies are brilliant – wonderful LIVE.
I really (REALLY) loved SUPERUNKNOWN when it came out – when I was living in CAIRNS. SpoonMan, Superunknown, Limo Wreck – fantastic – but I never really liked Black Hole Sun.

Anyway – I could go on-and-on about grunge, but I’ll leave you with one of my favourite songs from the genre. That fat groove sends chills down my spine – sheer bliss – even today.
And then the break-down towards the latter section of the song, those power chords are just wonderful.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=14r7y6rM6zA

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Day 4 of the 7 day musical challenge.

PANTERA. This one word brings a smile to every fan of heavy metal.

I first grabbing the COWBOYS FROM HELL (CFH) album when I’d just finished university, it was just before the grunge era broke, and the CFH album scared the pants off me.

Coming from listening to LA style music – where GUNS N ROSES were "heavy" – PANTERA had amazingly fast drumming, and groove-laden riffing from Dimebag Darrell, and the snarly agressive tones from Phil Anselmo – it was something else, for sure !

Primal Concrete Sledge, Cemetary Gates, Domination, The Art Of Shredding – fantastic.

Then, the almighty VULGAR DISPLAY OF POWER (VDOP) came out – OMFG. This is a landmark heavy metal album, for the ages.

Quite possibly THE best metal album of the 90’s.

Mouth For War, A New Level, Walk, Hostile, This Love, Rise – the opening 6 tracks are ALL brilliant.

I was in America in early 1994 (a few weeks after Kurt Cobain died) and bought FAR BEYOND DRIVEN (FBD).

The opening song is flat-out speed instantly – incredible.

When I was in New Orleans, I had my wallet stolen, and I recall listening to FBD on repeat, and challenging my anger and frustration into my portable CD player.

Even today – PANTERA is a wonderful anger release for many people I know…!

"The releasing of anger can better any medecine under the sun…."

The next albums from PANTERA were not so appealing for me – I’d progressed to other bands like SEPULTURA, FEAR FACTORY and MACHINEHEAD.

"The Great Southern Trendkill" (GSTK) – I’ll have to listen to this some more, but I think the turmoil within the band was obvious. Vocals were recorded separately, etc.

The band split soon after, and then the guitarist DIMEBAG DARRELL was shot dead on stage in a show with his follow-up band (Damageplan). WTF !?

DIMEBAG entered folklore and legend, for all heavy metal fans – in the worst way possible.

But for now – let’s remember the glory days of PANTERA… (the song that saved me, in New Orleans ’94)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ss-SUz3163U

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Day 5 of 7 days of music…

Today’s song is from one of my all time favourite bands – certainly the greatest metal band that *I* personally loooove.

My journey with MachineHead began back in 1995 when I bought the “BURN MY EYES” album – based on the cover. A classic set of power/groove-metal tracks, post-grunge, when metal was “on the nose”. Davidian, Old, A Thousand Lies – wonderful pinch-harmonics & riffs, and driving double-kick drumming. Awesome.

The next album “THE MORE THINGS CHANGE” had a few classics too – with Ten Ton Hammer, and Take My Scars.

The follow-up period for MachineHead was dire – with line-up changes, and the new rap-metal such as Korn and Limp Bizkit were on the rise. MachineHead’s album THE BURNING RED was ‘ok’, but the follow-up SUPERCHARGER was a little to much of the “trying to fit the new scene” – and a bit of a flop. The band was dumped from the label, and close to being finished.

Then, the amazing THROUGH THE ASHES OF EMPIRES – and then a true metal classic THE BLACKENING. This album won them many KERRANG awards, a Grammy nomination, included on Guitar Hero (!) , a tribute song to Dimebag (Aesthetics Of Hate), and they have been being hailed as “one of the pioneering bands in the New Wave of American Heavy Metal” (Wikipedia)

Another brilliant album to follow – UNTO THE LOCUST, and more band troubles with ADAM DUCE leaving, with lawsuits, and nasty lyrics about ‘this is a friendship broken’ on last year’s BLOODSTONE & DIAMONDS.

I’ve seen MachineHead live on 6-7 occasions – and they’re spectacular.

So – here’s one of the best ‘opening’ songs on a album, and live show – IMPERIUM.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-wKGkrZJHIc

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Day 6 of 7 days of music, and I’m not ready to stop yet !

I love discovering a band by seeing them live, and then getting the CD or listening on Spotify, and then getting excited to see them live AGAIN…

I saw KYUSS as the support band for METALLICA in April 93 – excitedly waiting for the main band (first time seeing Metallica), and I couldn’t get over the down-tuned fat bass and grungey metal riffs.

It wasn’t metal, and wasn’t grunge – it was "stoner".

They are the standout pioneer band in this genre – most would say. Certainly, the most well known.

Around the same time, I was working at FoodPlus (LOL!) close to the end of University days, and the the JUKE magazine had a competition saying "who supported Metallica ?" and I won their CD…

BLUES FOR THE RED SUN (BFRS) is an epic album – Thumb, Green Machine, Allen’s Wrench – still classics.

I then went to find their prior album WRETCH – not their best work – but good to see them ‘growing’ into their sound.

The followup to BFRS was WELCOME TO SKY VALLEY – this was brilliant !

I loved the way they had a 10 song album, but only 3 tracks on the CD – to mess with people clicking ‘random’.

Demon Cleaner, Gardenia, Space Cadet and 100 degrees – I could imagine them in the middle of the desert at night, with an open air concert for friends, with beers, bourbon and weed a-plenty.

The next album AND THE CIRCUS LEAVES TOWN was their final album – only three months before they broke up, with great tracks such as One Inch Main, and Hurricane.

Only together as a band for 4-5 years, some members went on to form QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE – I liked their first few albums, but not so much lately.

I recently saw KYUSS again – and they were fantastic – such great songs.

One of my all time favourite bands – so many good songs to choose from.

I love the riff on this track – quick LOL at a drunk sounding dude as intro – and then a fat (FAT !) sludgy riff – turn it up LOUD…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=86Xhc-s00xk

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Day 7 of 7 songs – last one !

When I was a big Metallica fanboi, part of the fanclub, and met Hetfield and Newstead, I thought I’d reached a peak of my ‘fandom’ in music. But, somewhere along the way, Metallica dropped the ball (ahem – Load, ReLoad, Lulu) – and I was disappointed, cancelled my fan club membership – and they were just "another band" in my rotation.

Around the same time (1999), I’d been listening to ALTERNATIVE music as well as metal. THis was the era of White Zombie, Korn, Limp Bizkit – and other surprises such as Slipknot. Metal was in a wierd place.

I’d been listening to other alt.bands like Filter, and Nine Inch Nails – who I’d seen in 1995 at Alternative Nation. I didn’t fully appreciate them back then – but I soon would.

I’d listened to THE DOWNWARD SPIRAL, and loved the heavier songs, and distortions and angry lyrics. But it was THE FRAGILE that really cemented my love of all things NIN and Trent.

A double album, with amazing production, and a bunch of stand out tracks – they were my new favourite band.

I saw them on the WITH TEETH tour, an album that I didn’t mind – but not as good as previous.

When it came time for YEAR ZERO, the band did one of the best viral marketing campaigns ever – I even did a workplace ‘public speaking’ session about it (see link below).

And then – May 2007 – I saw them twice at The Palace nightclub – still one of the greatest shows I’ve ever seen. (blog posts below)

The surreal GHOSTS album of just acoustic sounds was after that – some wonderful ‘thought voyages’ while listening to that.

And then – an album for free "this one is on me" – with THE SLIP. And the incredible "lights in the sky" tour. I have my name on the liner notes for the fan-produced "this one is on us" DVD recording.

The band split for a long term hiatus, after touring with Janes’Addiction – I was at TechEd on the Gold Coast in 2009, watching the live-tweets on their final show. *sigh*

Reznor then did some music soundtracks, and then a remarkable NEW album – HESTIATION MARKS.

I got to see them again, on the tour for that album – expecting that it might be the last time. Incredible light show, and I knew every single song… EVERY song.

I also have a NINE INCH NAILS *tattoo* – so yep, no surprises, that I’m posting a song from Nine Inch Nails.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Qy59hKIc4A

https://grumpywookie.wordpress.com/2007/05/15/nine-inch-nails-again/

https://grumpywookie.wordpress.com/2007/05/16/review-nine-inch-nails-x2/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rtlw7uD2hyo

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That’s it !    Some awesome bands, and great memories of live shows….

Smile

Welcome to 2016

It’s now a few days since the calendar ticked over to 2016 – a leap year – and (ironically enough), I’ve taken a leap myself.

More of that in a sec, but it’s time to have a quick glance back to 2015 – and the year-that-was.

I like to do a blogpost on NYE, or close enough, here’s some entries from previous years….      

End of 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014.  

This is my TENTH year doing a end-of-year blog – nice !

This time last year, I’d completed a tough 6-8 months of work (the toughest I’d ever weathered), and had “lost a piece of myself” along the way – and so the start to 2015 began with more of a FAMILY and BICYCLE focus, with WORK plans as secondary.

Cycling – I set myself a goal of “ride 100km a week” (and/or 500km a month) to beat the 5000km a year barrier that I’d narrowly missed in past years.    This meant some ride-to-work commitment, through the tougher winter months, with most weeks riding 3-4 days, only NOT riding on Tuesdays, with commitment to basketball – as a coach of U/12 and then U/10.

A new winter jacket, and a ‘park n ride’ strategy – where I’d drive with my bike to a football club in Burwood, and cycle back roads, and bike paths – around 15km morning and night.   This did me ‘wonders’ for physical and mental condition – and I began to find some clarity.

(In the end, I rode over 6100km for the year – avg. of 117km a week – amazing !)

FVCK CANCER

Not long after I was into the happy vibe for the year (April), we had a family shock – with my sister diagnosed with Ovarian cancer.   She had an operation to remove it, and full hysterectomy, and we all went into ‘support’ mode to help her.   I made sure to phone her every week, and to talk about “fun stuff”, and to send SMS’s such as her chemo days – to make sure she had “chemo cake” (coffee & cake !).

It was a nasty surprise for our kids also – who know of “Auntie Kath” – but it was a new discussion – I had a pamphlet entitled “talking to kids about cancer” and told them that she was ‘sick’, but had an operation, and now some special medicine for 6 months, and then she’ll be all better – by Christmas !

Mr.10 blew me away, he floored me with a comment saying “I’m worried about YOU too Dad, as it’s your sister, and I’d be upset if one of my brothers was sick like that”.  

Such amazing empathy and deep hearted sentiment – he’s a treasure, for sure.

The great news – to close that chapter – is that she is in remission, and finished chemo, and her hair is growing back – and life is starting to get back to normal – although she’s still very TIRED – more than she thought.  

A silver lining, is that I’m closer to her now than I think I’ve ever been – probably since teenage days of living in the same house…

My uncle John is also battling cancer this year – only a few months after my sister was diagnosed – another blow to my FATHER who is supporting his daughter, and wife, and now brother….

MUSIC

To change it up a beat (no pun intended), it’s been a great year for my ears, with some great concerts, and lots of Spotify.

SoundWave is always the biggest festival of the year – and 2015 was a two-day event.   A massive line-up, soooo many bands !

image

On the first day, there were some memorable bands – KILLER BE KILLED – with the supergroup line-up – I video’ed their first ever song, for their first ever show – and had the YouTube clip picked up on Kerrang, and many other metal news websites – and over 50,000 views….

image

GODSMACK were a band that has never toured Australia – they were brilliant – I’d setup a setlist via Spotify, and knew a lot of the show – and they rocked !    It was my most played band on Spotify for 2015 (!)

On the 2nd day, I got there late, and skipped past STEEL PANTHER (who were in the process of asking girls to raise their hand if they like the taste of cum – classy) – and got to ~10 ppl from the front as FEAR FACTORY started !

Then MINISTRY, SOUNDGARDEN, FAITH NO MORE and LAMB OF GOD – what a great way to close out the weekend….

I usually try to get along to a ‘SideWave’ show as part of the tour, this year it was actually AFTER the two-day event – was a struggle !    Killer Be Killed and Lamb Of God – awesome …!

Aside from SoundWave – I also got to see my favourite metal band MACHINEHEAD – at a crappy venue unfortunately – but I knew every song – great show.

MEGADETH were  dropped from SoundWave last year, and I was pretty disappointed (I’d just finished reading Dave Mustaine’s biography, and had been really keen to see them) – and so I got a ticket to see them at Festival Hall – along with CHILDREN OF BODOM.    A parma, and some beers before the show, with great mates – and an awesome concert.

Another comment to note, is that I’m actually listening to a lot LESS music – and been into the habit of podcasts, after about a dozen failed attempts to made it a routine.   I listen to either the Microsoft CloudShow, or O365Dev podcast while driving to the ParkNRide footy oval – or maybe ThisAmericanLife.   And on some longer country drives, for the VES races – have gotten through quite a few !

FAMILY

It’s been a wonderful year for the O’Connor family (my own party-of-five) – we have some great laughs together, and the boys are growing into amazing little dudes, with unique viewpoints and observations – and some great friendships.

Charlie – started PREP in 2015, and it was a little tough for him initially, he didn’t take to it like a duck-to-water, as we’d expected !    After the first term, he got into the routine, and he then began to really love school.   Lots of good friends, and an awesome teacher, and his reading is amazing…    He’s into grade 1 for 2016.   He’s been doing wonderful at Karate too – very cool to see him in action.

Liam – into grade 2 for 2015, Liam has been a delight for his teacher – he’s a wonderful assistant, and always enthusiastic, and has made lots of friends.   He’s a very popular kid, he just has a natural “nice” way to him.   He’s been continuing with his Karate, and started basketball in U/10 – I’m coaching the team, we haven’t had a win yet – but very enthuiastic bunch of kids !

Cameron – was in grade 4 for 2015, and been suffering some hiccups with friends along the way – he saw a school counsellor after some troubles in and out of the class, and coping with his Aunties cancer, he was just anxious and upset.   Some growing pains, and hormone changes, no doubt !    He’s doing great at school – maths, english and computers – and he just loves his video games (Terraria addict !), and basketball – I coached the team un U/12.    

For 2016 – we’ll hopefully get him an MTB with gears, and he can come to Lysterfield with me – he loved it the one time we went, on his BMX…

Friends – the kids have enabled *US* to make some great friends, with parents of kids’ friends – we’ve had some fun times with the Thompsons, and Lowes – and Luke has become my ‘man-date’ friend for movies – a beer, popcorn, and action flick – Mad Max, Mission Impossible 5, FF7, and a bunch more…   

As well as basketball coaching, and we took our sons to the new Star Wars movie !

Donna – every time I write my NY blog post, I’m amazed at what my darling wife manages within our home – almost all of the cooking, and washing – I seem to be a ‘part time’ help with some dishes and vacuuming – she does the rest !    I’m in awe of her, and love the life we have made for ourselves.

As well as the household, Donna has done some great things for HERSELF – with a new training course commenced – to become a Teacher’s Aide – as well as playing tennis (fill-in + training with her Dad) – and she had a weekend away with some girlfriends – two nights !    They had a great time, we all survived without her, and she enjoyed being a “woman” and not just a “mum” for a weekend.   

We’ve had some date nights together, or lunch + movie (The Martian) and an anniversary dinner at TGIF – and another movie…

Chloe – our aging doggy had an emergency vet trip this year, after we thought she was having a stroke, she couldn’t walk, and was looking all around and panting fast.   She’d had a “geriatric vestibular” condition (seizure) – she’s had TWO now – a month apart.   And getting older day-by-day.   She’s pretty deaf now, and hard to get up off the floor some days – especially during the heat of summer.

I’ve been making sure to give her lots of pats & cuddles, and make her last days with us a joy.   She’s 13.5 – they don’t live forever – but I’m dreading the day that she leaves us – it was hard enough taking her to the vet, with a ‘seizure’.   I broke into tears as I was talking to the vet – sooky la-la…

Let’s not talk about that anymore…

Activities – as a family, we went along to the basketball, thanks to some tickets for Christmas – the NBL was great !   Melbourne United vs Sydney Kings – amazing to see the razz-a-ma-tazz of the big game – and great skills and talent on-court.    (I had to race off from there to day #2 for SoundWave – LOL !)

We had a family day to the zoo (with Empired), and went for a city-walk-tour, and the acquarium, and had some holiday fun too – camping with Lowes at Anglesea (kayakking and market), and a week in Avoca (building bike track, hike in the Grampians, wood chopping, cycling, and some reading)…

The kids had fun preparing for the school concert this year – Donna made 24 ‘lab coats’ for the performance – it was a science theme.   The school is amazing at the way it all came together…

They also did an athletics day – was great to see them running as fast as possible !

And – we did a day out for the Christmas carols at Jells Park – phew !

(So – yes, it has been an awesome year with family)

Other fun through the year, we attended a wedding for Paul & Sara’s, Chris & Flip had a baby in mid-December, and we went for a 25 year anniversary dinner with friends from end-of-high-school days – lots of old photos and great chatter, at a fancy restaurant – it was awesome fun – amazing that we’ve been friends for 25 years.

For this year (2016), the boys are into grade 1, 3 and 5 – we’ll need to look at high schools before long.   We have a family holiday booked for Queensland in September – Gold Coast theme parks, and then resort chill out in Noosa.   

Family will tick along as it always does, I’m hoping for no BAD news like we had in 2015, and need to keep in touch with Mum & Dad, not getting any younger.  

But for me, just keep on Dad’ing – and enjoy our wonderful home – and some great times with my darling Donna.

PERSONAL

As well as getting myself out cycling, and losing some KG’s in the process, I’ve also made sure to take some time to do some reading.   One book in particular was a great influence on me, at the start of the year – entitled “Search Inside Yourself”.   A self-help book of some sorts, about emotional intelligence, by a guy at Google.   Being able to recognize stress feelings, and anxiety was a great help – it changed my outlook on a few things.

Another great discovery was the site/app called “Good Reads” – able to track books and reviews, and “to-read” books – here’s a few that I’ve gotten through this year.

A mix of adventure, fiction and biographies – my main topics of interest :

image

Earlier in the year, I had a meetup at Swinburne, with a bunch of people from my IT degree, who I hadn’t seen in 20+ years.   Was great to chat and hear about different life journeys – mostly still in IT – but some had quit to be a teacher, or sold out (one dude helped create the FAST search tool, acquired by Microsoft !    He was always destined for great things, top of our class, etc.)

Also, on the topic of ‘meetups’, the old MSPUG SharePoint User Group was folded into the O365UG in Melbourne – and I’ve been helping to organise meetings, and present some topics – as well as a session at the SharePoint Saturday (O365Sat) in Melbourne.

Cycling – I’d mentioned that I needed my bike as a carthatis/coping – but I also had some great adventures during the year, as well as the fittest I’ve been since high school – and under 80kg for a while – Xmas eating has pushed me up again (LOL!)

Lots of MTB’ing – including a day out at Mt.Buller to ride the EPIC trail – and I raced the series for the Vic Enduro Series.    I missed TWO events – but had a great result at Lysterfield, and Albury – and had a great time with new friends, and repeat chat/ride buddies.

I also joined in the fun of the Lysterfield FFLL Friday races – just a good way to get out riding – bunch rides, with a numberplate, really !

My MTB is out of action at the moment – with a broken chainstay – might be a month or two of no mountain biking – doh.

Road riding – I did a few big rides, including a double-hit of DonnaBuang, while there was a group of female riders doing an Everesting – I managed 2150m – about 1/4 of their tally !     I did a ‘dirty donna’ ride as well – very VERY muddy – bike needed some work after that.

And – there was the BIG bike tour – four days with tents, and sleeping gear, all loaded up – 350km over four days, around Seymour, Eildon, Mansfield.   A great highlight to 2015 – hopefully another #seekandenjoy tour in 2016 !

Over the Xmas break, I did a ride to the Dandenongs, and almost beat my time on 1-in-20, and smashed it on TheWall – and also did a LakeMountain ride with some buddies – good times…

** gotta love some stats – thanks VeloViewer !

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Lastly, I’ve really enjoyed being a basketball coach.   Initially, I was pretty scared how I’d go on my own, at the start of the U/12 season – with some unknown kids – but we had a wonderful team, and they all worked SO hard – and we made the Grand Final !   (I had made a promise to buy them all a Gatorade – and stuck to the promise)

It was a real shame that we got steam rolled in the GF – we deserved a better chance, but the other team had a ring-in A-grader, and he was a one-man team.   Oh well.

I then turned to a junior/beginner team, with Liam’s U/10 team – only 2 of the 8 had ever played before – so it’s back-to-basics – and a main focus on enjoyment.   We haven’t won a game yet !    (and didn’t even score in the last game – doh)

For this year, make sure to retain some time for SELF, with reading, and XBoxOne fun (new TombRaider game), and be OK with ‘less’ riding this year.    New work will mean less opportunity to go cycling – but then again, need to train for the 200km Otway Classic – so better do some practice !

Keep having fun as basketball coach, and do some presentations at the O365UG, and Azure UG – already have a slot assigned for the new DWC conf – the re-branded SharePoint Conf – in April.

WORK

Has been a very interesting year for me with work, after the need to regain my love of IT, and ‘work’ in general.   I did some great project work with a team of dev’s – learning AngularJS and a bunch of Azure development, PowerShell and Office365.

Some wonderfully technologies – I was head-down into it – flying under the radar, while the consolidation of OBS+Empired (and Intergen) was bedded down.

I was pretty excited to see the new branding, with the bright yellow colours, and penguin logo’s, etc.   And from July 1, we’d be all A-OK and a new beginning.

Only, it didn’t quite hold true, and it was around late-August that I realised I wasn’t enjoying the direction of change, and the culture “feel” of what used to be a great company.

I’d realised that I didn’t want to progress my career (‘role’) to a team leader, or practice leader – or change entirely to be a PM, or sales – and it was the opportunity to move to a Seattle based dev team (within Empired) that made me realise I was actually wanting a BIG change.

America would have been a great move, but too big for our family with kids in school, and a very old dog who wouldn’t handle the move very well, and we wouldn’t leave her behind – and Donna didn’t want to leave her Mum – and sister with cancer – so it all just “stopped” (the idea to move to Seattle).

But – I continued looking outside of OBS – I could go work for a similar consulting company, in the same sort of role – or I could ‘work-the-network’ and go out on my own !

So – that’s what transpired – over the course of 2-3 months, I talked to lots of people, and resigned in early November, and established a new company entity.

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I’d been close to resigning before I had my two weeks leave in early October – Donna was suggesting I quit, and could go on holidays with a happy vibe – but it worked out best to ‘see out the year’ – and it turned out that FOUR other people finished up on the same day as me – Dec.18th – as the company closed up for the Christmas break.

For 2016 – I’m excited to see what happens – I don’t KNOW for some of it – which is exciting.   I have my first contract for 3 months, and already have people asking me to work with them beyond that timeframe.

So – hopefully my blog post in 2017 will be full of wonderful memories and great experiences.

For the year ahead, make kachihro my prime focus.   Enjoy the highs and lows, ride them out if necessary, and don’t “second guess” myself.   Back myself and be confident/strong in my opinion of self.

Enjoy some technical learnings, and more PluralSight – and perhaps develop a course as a PluralSight author.   Consider a product/utility to assist my backetball team (club) with managing players – and see if there is the potential to create a product/service – and make sales.

Welcome to 2016

So – there you go !   2015 began with a whimper, had some struggles and heartache, and finished with a bang.

Hopefully YOU had a great year in 2015 – and a wonderful start to 2016 – all the best to you and family – and good luck in whatever may come your way – cheers !

Smile

Liam is now EIGHT (and three weeks)

As usual, I’m late with a birthday blog post – doh !  

We’ve had a busy household over the last month – including a big party for Liam’s birthday – with family, which was the same day as a vet-emergency trip for our dog Chloe – and then Liam’s party with buddies at home – and a hospital visit for Charlie (!)

Add to this, normal school & work life – and a MTB race for Dad (me) – and starting basketball for Liam – and new school course for Donna – and job resignation (me again !) – and you can understand that it’s been BUSY !    More than normal.

Anyways – HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Liam !     ….for October 25th.

Here’s the posts from his 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th birthdays…

School

Liam started grade 2 in 2015, his teacher is Mrs.Loonstra.   She just adores having Liam in her class – he’s a very happy & caring student – and friends with everyone.

His main play buddies are Alex L, Alex P, Lucas and his girlmate Sarah.

Ready to rock for the 1st day of school – Feb 2015

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School sports night at the oval – inside the inflata-ball

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Having a snack with his ‘betrothed’ Saachi

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Riding to school !

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Fun Activities

When it gets to the weekend, Liam is desperate to play video games – like his brothers !    They play a lot of Terraria, and some MineCraft.  

And we’ve recently gotten a 2nd-hand old model PlayStation 3 – and so we’ve played Ratchet & Clank, and Little Big Planet.

Liam still loves Lego – and he’s becoming a master CHESS player !

We love other board games – such as Uno, and Connect Four (he’s a gun at that !)

Movie Fun

We’ve been to see some great films this year – including “Big Hero 6”, “Paper Planes” and “Minions” – and the new Pixar “Inside Out”.

It’s fun to take a photo with the cardboard cutout – Liam isn’t shy for that at all !

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Silly photo at the Pancake Parlour, Eastland

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HOWZAT !   I don’t think Liam even knows what it was for – LOL !

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Sport – Karate

Liam has reached ‘Yellow/White’ in his gradings this year – and gone up to JUNIOR DRAGONS.

It’s been wonderful to see his progress.   He had one session where he was the eldest to be grading, and did a lot of the session on his own.  

Just amazing to see his speed, accuracy, control and discipline – he’s fantastic…!

And – to top it off – he won an award at the end of the year, for “Most Spirited” in class.

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Basketball – Wantirna JetBacks

Liam has now started playing BASKETBALL – only two games into the season so far – I’m coaching the team, but they have a lot of learning & experience ahead of them.  

We’ll most likely drop from “D” to “E” grade – after some 20 point losses – and we only scored 1-2 goals !

First basketball training at the Junior Jets program

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Lovely Mum

Liam has a great friendship with Donna (Mum) – he’s always giving her back scratches and hugs – and he & his brothers drew a poster after she had been away for a weekend with some girlfriends.

Getting a haircut from Mum

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Nice job Mum !

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Welcome home Mum !

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Family Fun – Camping

Earlier in the year, we had a family camping trip to Anglesea – with another family from school (Lowes).   A great family getaway – lots of bike riding during the day – and some fun in the swimming pool – and games at night.

Liam is a grand wizard at Connect Four !

Fish & Chips outdoors – camping fun

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Liam checking out the kangaroos at the golf course nearby

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Serious gameplay – Connect Four !

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Fun With Brothers

Liam has a great time with his brothers – sometimes clashing with Cameron – but usually best buddies with Charlie.   They’re closer in age – and share a bedroom – so they’re often inseparable.

But – all three boys are usually playing SOME game or other – on the XBox – or the trampoline – or bike riding – or shooting hoops in the backyard.

Melbourne aquarium

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Taken their penguins to see the penguins

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Selfie on the train, heading in to the city to see Dad

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Out for a bike ride on the local paths

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Ready for bed on Christmas Eve (Cameron had sun in his eyes)

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More bike riding – up to the park this time

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Cold Winter

We had some very VERY cold days this winter, and I called out to Liam one morning to “come and check out the white grass !!”    He was walking around, LOL’ing at it was crunching below his feet.

We discovered that there was a puddle on the basketball stand that had frozen overnight – Liam pretended that it was an icy pole !

Crunchy grass in the backyard

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Frozen chunks on the basketball court

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Even the basketball had ice on it !

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Liam was amazed that there was ICE on the window of the car

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We had a family day out to the snow at Mt.Donna Buang – although the roads were iced over, and we couldn’t get there – so we went for a walk along the trail next to the river in Warburton.   It was lovely – but damn cold – as you can see from Liam !

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Avoca holidays

We had a great time at AVOCA again this year – during the September school holidays.   Liam rode his bike lots, and helped with the building of the new ‘Geronimo Express’ bike track – and had a few crashes – one time he held his knee screaming “aaaahhh, I’ve broken my LEG !!!” – LOL !

We had a great day out to The Grampians – and did a hike to The Pinnacles – lots of rock scrambling, and great views – and some cool photos.

Next year – we’re doing to Queensland for school holidays !

Doing some drawing + reading on the patio

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Liam spotted this burned out tree, and wanted a photo – LOL !

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The Pinnacles – at The Grampians

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Photo Shoot

We had a family set of photos – was the same damn that Liam was suffering a fever, and he was hot with a temperature.   We had a delay in photo booking (someone jumped the queue !) and Liam ended up being sick into the rubbish bin.   He was a real trooper – and had a smile when I said “maybe we’ll give you $1 for every photo !”

Some wonderful shots of him – amazing to think that he’d just had a spew only 2 mins before these pics !

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Dressing Up

Of all our lads, Liam is the one who’s always keen for some dress-up fun.   He dressed as Harry Potter for Halloween (last year) – and for the school disco, he went as a Ninja Turtle – and was a dracula/vampire this year – for his “spooky disco” birthday party with friends.

Halloween, October 2014

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School disco night as a Turtle – Charlie is dressed as “Ron” from HarryPotter !

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Liam’s 8th Birthday – with some of his friends from school

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Christmas Fun

We had some great fun at Christmas – we try to do a photo of the kids to send to friends – and Donna ended up having to leave the room – due to the amount of giggles and laughter.

You can see the delight and laughter on Liam’s face – he’s got the giggles !!

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But – we ended up with some great photos – such awesome lads !

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Turning EIGHT

Liam is definitely going to be a BIG boy – he grew SIX centimetres in the year from 7–8, that works out to HALF a cm every month.    He’s the same height on the measuring chart as Cameron, at age NINE…    (a year ahead)

Liam got some cool presents – he loved the Star Wars Chess set.

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Pretty cool cake by Donna – Minion Haunted Castle

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Other fun

With all the fun activities we do – and busy weeks and weekends – it’s hard to keep track of EVERYTHING.   Here’s a set of some cool LIAM photos – in a variety of settings, and experiences.

Swimming at Phillip Island, after a day trip to visit Nanna + GrandDad

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Walk up to HANGING ROCK

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Chocolate milk and a cookie – at his favourite “Bat Cafe”

(he had a bat cookie around Halloween – and the name just stuck – ha ha !)

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Earning some pocket money – mowing the backyard

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Sparkler on New Years Eve

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Lunch time fun at Yum Cha

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Patting our dog Chloe

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Goofing around at the Melbourne Zoo – great face !

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Another happy customer – hot chocolate and a cookie !

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Hanging out with Dad – selfie !

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Happy Birthday !!

It’s always amazing to look back on the year – and see what has happened in the world of LIAM.  

We’re so proud of the way you approach life – with such joy & enthusiasm – and making friends where ever you go.  

Good luck for a new season of basketball – I’m sure you’ll do great.

And – Happy Birthday – love always, from Mum & Dad.    X

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Charlie is now SIX !

It’s a few weeks ago now, his birthday is actually June 28th – but it’s been a busy few weeks in our household (when is it ever NOT !?)

It’s actually mid-July now, and I’m typing while watching the Tour De France – and have a bunch of photos to share, and celebrate Charlie going “double hands” (needing two hands to show his age !).

Charlie has some blog posts for his previous birthdays, check them out here : ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR and FIVE.

Charlie has started school !

While finishing up at kinder in late 2014, Charlie began doing some ‘transition classes’ at school.  With two big brothers already at school (Knox Gardens), it was a very familiar environment for Charlie, so he took to it like a duck to water.

Seeing him in his school uniform, with a big school bag, was lovely to see – and a few (proud) tears from Mum.

It was great to be able to take the morning off work, and see his first day with his new classmates, and Mrs.Marletta, a great FIRST teacher.

The first few months were tiring and difficult for him, but he soon found his place, and the routine of school days, and special fun like ‘lunch orders’.

He’s doing great at reading, and very excited to learn more words – and has had some great fun with his “word pockets”.

Dressed and ready to go !

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Proud brothers – and Mum !

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Family selfie !

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Large, medium and small – ready for school…

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First day for Ashie too – best friends !

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Starting school with a puzzle activity

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Having fun at the school sports night – check out that happy smile !

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Best Friend : Ashie

Charlie has a wonderful best friend, who he’s known since activity group + kinder.  During school pickup for their brothers, they’d often hold hands walking to/from the car – talking away to each other – and they would even write notes to give to each other.   Hopefully their lovely friendship continues, and survives through primary school…

Holding hands walking to school/kinder

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Snacks during a working bee at kinder

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Happy faces drawing, note from Charlie to Ashie

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Playing MineCraft, sharing a chair – LOL !

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Easter hat parade at Knox Gardens

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Charlie and his brothers

As the youngest of the family, Charlie gets to experience some great conversation, and awesome games, with two BIG dudes to look up to, and laugh with – and fight with (sometimes).  

They are a close bunch of lads – we couldn’t be happier at the way our family is growing together.

Cameron and Liam play a lot together, and they still share a bedroom – and Liam often reads a bedtime book to Charlie, tucked up in bed together.

They play a lot of video games together – MineCraft, Terraria, BattleBlockTheatre, Skylanders, Mario Bros – and Charlie loves the Kinect Sports, and Fruit Ninja on the XBox.  

He’s also getting VERY good at playing UNO – and often wins – much to my surprise !

Playing in the cubby house – which is now gone – replaced with a basketball court.

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Three brothers, ready for School Sports Day – L for LAWSON !

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Hugs for big brother Cameron, who turned 10

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Playing games on the iPad + iPhone – snuggled together !

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LOL – there’s TWO empty couches too…!

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Chatting to a goat at the Collingwood Children’s Farm

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Laughing like a crazy man, in the mirror at Pancake Parlour

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PJ shenanigans with Liam

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Liam reading a story to Charlie – such great friends…

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Happy smiles at Christmas – such a lovely trio…

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Fun with family

We’ve had a lot of great activities and family outings over the last year or so – camping, zoo/s, aquarium, footy, Christmas lights, movies, country holiday in Avoca, play days at the beach – and lots of board games.

Charlie kicking butt at UNO

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Riding the skim board – getting a tow from Dad

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Reading a storybook with Nanna

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Crazy selfie photo on Father’s Day

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Comparing EYE colours with Mum and Dad (Mum wins this round !)…

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Playing Snakes & Ladders on the patio (Avoca)

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Selfie pic with Dad – out to see THE BOXTROLLS

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Family photo with SANTA !

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With Mum, on a Melbourne city tram

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Fish & Chips while camping

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Flying a kite on the beach

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Watching a helicopter taking off, on the way to….

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…Melbourne Aquarium – with the penguins

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Charlie’s Activities

During 2014, Charlie was doing regular swimming lessons, and progressing very well, with great confidence.  Over the summer period, he enjoyed a few swim days at friend’s houses – great to see him enjoying the water.

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He also finished up at AusKick after one year – Liam completed three years at the end of 2014 – Charlie just wasn’t as keen, and so he didn’t sign up for 2015.

With Charlie commencing school, we skipped any after-school activities, just to make sure it wasn’t all “too much” for him – but he’s now started doing Karate – and having his first grading in a few weeks.  

Charlie loves DressUps !

Like his brothers, Charlie loves to get a face-painting, or into a costume for a school disco, or crazy-hair-day, or halloween !

Dressed as a ZOMBIE for Halloween + trick-or-treat

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Crazy hair day at kindergarten

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Not sure what this is !   SpongeBox ?    LOL !

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Dressed up as dragon from “How To Train Your Dragon”

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Ron from Harry Potter – for the school disco

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Charlie loves riding bikes

Over the summer, we were able to go riding a LOT – either on the back of the half-wheeler (double-decker, as Charlie called it !) – or with his awesome black BMX that we got for him just before our holiday in Avoca.

Ready to go – before *I* am !

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Half-wheeler stop-off at Jells Park

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Smiling away, and pedalling fast !

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Charlie’s drawing for show+tell

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Charlie’s awesome new BMX – was a $40 bike, on GumTree !

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Riding the bike path near home

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Stopped for an icy pole, with brothers, and cousin Michael

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Riding at the Lewellyn Park hill

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Bushy trail at Lewellyn Park – known as “hidden track” (LOL)

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Charlie brought a notepad, and stopped to do a drawing of a rock – LOL !

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Riding the trail at Avoca – that *WE* created – Geronimo Swing Dipper !

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He’s just awesome

There’s not much else you can say really – Charlie is an amazing little guy, with lots of laughter – and a developing personality – school is doing him well…!

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Sausage sizzle at Bunnings – it was a HEAVY trolley to push !

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At the Tiger enclosure at the zoo…

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Lovely drawing for Mum – aaawww….

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Charlie told me it was from an “evil man” saying this – not HIM !    Phew…

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Butter would not melt !

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Happy 6th Birthday Charlie !

Congrats to you buddy – for turning SIX !    (amazing to see – he grew 9cm !)

We love you very much little buddy – thanks for all the laughs, cuddles and great conversations and story cuddles…

Love you, matey…     X      Mum & Dad.

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Smile

Cameron has turned 10 – double figures !

Well, it’s just over two weeks since the day – but WOW – Cameron is TEN !  

We were VERY busy on Cameron’s birthday weekend – and then it SoundWave weekend to follow.

You can see Cameron’s previous blog posts : 9th, 8th, 7th, 6th, 5th, 4th, and 3rd birthdays (I hadn’t done any for his 1st or 2nd – doh !).

I can still remember the day that Donna and I went off to the hospital, and we became parents – meeting our special little guy for the first time.  

We joked that Donna is due for ‘long service leave’ – after 10 years – and she’s arranged a weekend away with some other mum’s who met when Cameron was only a few weeks old (Mum’s Group)….

Anyway – this is about Cameron – aka, Cam – as he’s usually called these days.

School – Grade 4

In 2014, Cam was in grade 3, and now into grade 4 for 2015.   His brothers are in grade 2, and prep – so they’re ALL at school.  

Cameron has been enjoying his maths most of all, learning lots of calculations like long division and multiplication, and he’s constantly amazing us with his ‘in-mind’ maths skills.  

He’s also been enjoying writing, and spelling – and did great with his NAPLAN tests during grade 3.   One of the stand-out things was his ‘persuasive writing’ in which th kids had to write about “a law they wanted to change”.   Cam chose to outlaw ‘smoking’ – as it’s bad for people’s health, and would be better for them.   (!!) 

During the year, the kids had a great time with some excursions – to the Melbourne Museum, ScienceWorks and Healesville – as well as a 3-day camp at “Camp Week-Away”.    Cameron just takes it all in his stride – amazing, really.

He does have some trouble with the nasty girls at school, they call the other kids stupid, and “we all hate you” – poor Cameron doesn’t understand WHY they’re like that – and that can be upsetting.

But, he has some great buddies – and recently had a great birthday party at the TimeZone, and Laser Tag.   His best buddy is JETT – followed by MATT – and his other friends are Josh & Luke S, as well as William, Brandon, Andy – and still great friends with Sebastian.

Off to school – start of grade three (Feb 2014)

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Crazy hair day !

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With his buddies – heading off to school camp

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Ready for the athletics day – “L” for Lawson (Blue)

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Ready for a new year of school – grade FOUR (Feb 2015)

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Off to school with his brothers !    Proud !

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Sport + Activities

2014 was the year that Cameron discovered a great love of basketball, with a 5-week ‘learning’ training session, and then being placed into a team.   He was the youngest of the bunch, but had a great coach (Nick) – and started to get more confident in his ability, and gameplay – and scored a few goals during the season.

The team was getting beaten at the start, but the penny dropped, and they WON a game, and then didn’t lose again – all the way through finals, and the grand final !

(That was a tense+close game – I’ve never been so nervous watching sport !)

The next season (current ‘summer’ season), the winning team was split up, with Cam staying along with 3 of the team, and a new set of 4 player – for 8 in total.

This year, Cam has been the eldest of the bunch, and has had to “step up”, which he has done amazingly.   Also, *I* have been helping coach, and running the ‘subs’ on game day – along with my good buddy LUKE, who is Matt’s Dad.

We’ve had some close games, and a few losses, and even a draw !    Hopefully we’ll make the Grand Final this season – it will be a hard fight to win this time around.

It’s helping Cameron to have somewhere to practice – I’ve dug up a section of the backyard, and had a concrete slab poured, and Cam (& Liam) have been enjoying bouncing, and passing, and doing lay-ups.   Liam is showing great potential, hopefully he’ll be able to join up this season.

(We also took the whole family to see the NBL last weekend – what a great atmosphere !!    Melbourne United vs Sydney Kings)

Cameron has lost most of the love for footy – although we got along to see a few games with the Richmond Tigers – we’ll have to see what 2015 brings.

Hanging out with his brothers, doing AusKick

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Off to the Richmond family day – GO TIGERS !

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Ready for his FIRST game of basketball

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McDonalds after they won their first game

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PREMIERS !!

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Fun Stuff

Cameron actually made a list of all the things that he loves to do – and it’s mainly ‘video game’ related – LOL !  

MineCraft, Terraria (new addiction !), Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare, Battle Block Theatre, Trials Evolution, Skylanders, Splosion Man, Rayman Legends – to name a few !

He’s also (still) loving Lego – with a new TECHNIC kit for Christmas – he spent a few days assembling, enjoying the challenge of a different type of Lego.   He wrote on a note (for this blog) that he likes to make “oun creashons”, ships, rockets, cars, boats.

He has a great knowledge of Harry Potter – amazing to hear some of the trivia and bits & pieces that he knows !   He hasn’t seen the final “M” rated movies – but will be allowed to watch them once he’s finished reading the book (Deathly Hallows).

He had some birthday money, and bought a Harry Potter poster for his bedroom wall – his choice !

As well, Cam and I went along to the “Star Wars Day” to see ANH, TESB and ROTJ.   It was a looong day – but we both loved it.

Another movie trip with his friend Matt, and Dad Luke was to see the new TMNT movie.

And we’ve recently watched some superhero movies – Thor, Guardians Of The Galaxy, IronMan and The Avengers.   The best one was IronMan – the kids all loved it 1– even Charlie, who is only five…    (eek !)

And Scooby Doo !

He’s been reading lots – not just Harry Potter – but even gotten into TINTIN !   And, I completed a chapter-by-chapter reading of a classic from when I was a kid – MY SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN (Jean George).  

His favourite book series – the 13 story tree house – and 26, 39 and 52 !

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Deep into another TINTIN book

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Star Wars Day – May The 4th !

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SubWay before the movies

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles !

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Cameron the BOX TROLL !

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Lovely brother

Cam and Liam often clash, and I think Cam gets annoyed with his little brother sometimes – but Charlie seems to be the neutral party – and not often that Cam and Charlie are fighting (except when Charlie gets too rough).

For the most part, they play together very well – more than not.

One night when Donna and I were out to dinner, and had her father babysit (Grandpa).   They watched a movie, then stayed up watching the footy with him – when we got home, Grandpa was passed out asleep on the couch.  

It turns out that he’d dozed off, and the kids didn’t want to wake him – and put themselves to bed – led & organised by Cameron.  Grandpa had woken up to the lights all out – and the kids gone (to bed) – LOL !

In the morning, Cam told us that he’d sorted his brothers out – to get into PJ’s – and then made sure that everyone did their teeth – and – he even read a story to Charlie…!   

It’s little stories like this that give me a ‘glow’ in my heart, that we’re raising a lovely little boy – with maturity, responsibility and consideration for others.

Cool dudes at the Cranbourne Botanical Gardens

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With his brothers at Christmas (2014)

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Christmas Day at Auntie Kath’s

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Playing Cluedo with Liam

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Hanging out with Dad – and yep, fingers up – LOL !

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Comparing EYE colours – Cam & I are very similar

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Out to YumCha with the family

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Flying a kite – such simple pleasures

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We lay on the grass, chatted and stared up at the kite – for over 1/2 an hour

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Cameron hurt his ankle at “Jump Factory” (outing for Liam’s 7th birthday) – he didn’t want his brothers to see that he was injured, he didn’t want to worry them or spoil it for them.   I said “sorry you’re missing out !” but he replied “it’s OK, at least I have some music to listen to…”     (aawww – and a brave smile too !)

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Riding bikes

It makes me very happy to go riding with the lads – we’re starting to go for longer rides – and Cameron is keen to try out trails at Lysterfield…

It won’t be long till we’re off to an MTB race together, or AroundTheBay – and he’ll beat me !   

Avoca – Geronimo swing dropper

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Riding the park trails at our local (Llewellyn)

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Our happy lad is growing up

I love to chat to Cameron on the phone, when ringing to say I’ll be coming home – I get a “hey, hello Dad-dad-daddy’o” – and once drove in the driveway to hear a “yo, what’up Dad !”    LOL !

We have a great friendship – and enjoy lots of laughs – and he’s still OK with hugs and holding hands – although I’m wondering how long THAT will last.

He’s growing up fast – not just the fact that he’s now TEN – but he reminded me that it’s only 6 years till I have to teach him how to drive !

I’m sure there are a lot of other things to learn in the years ahead – we’ve had one “birds & the bees” chat – he looked kinda terrified, hoping that the stories he’d heard in the schoolyard were NOT true !    We’ll help him with any questions along the way, of course – he hasn’t asked again since…

And – the age old question of “Santa” too – he wondered the other day why Santa wouldn’t bring presents to poor people – either it’s really “Mum & Dad” who are Santa – or he’s kinda mean…     (wow – amazing thought process – very empathic)

He has a grown up soul, that’s for sure – without losing his boyish ways.   

One of his big accomplishments for the year was to be allowed to run down to the shop to buy a loaf of bread – he was so excited to be allowed to go !

The next trip, he rode his scooter – and has even ridden his bike once or twice.   He likes that we’re letting him go – good test of self + responsibility.   (It was a nervous 8 minutes the first time he went !)

Back from the shops with a loaf of bread

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Other family fun

We had a great camping trip to the Big4 Bellarine, with another family – Cameron & the other kids were running, riding, jumping and swimming all day.   He woke the next day, and said that he remembers closing his eyes, and then it was morning – slept like a log !

We had two trips to Avoca – once for a two-night quick visit (Queens Birthday) – and we’d enjoyed it so much that we went for a whole week in September school holidays.

Cam and the lads helped me build a bike track, which they christened as the “Geronimo Swing Dropper” – and rode bikes up+ back, and up+down – and then finished the day with a campfire, and toasted marshmallows.   Nice !

Family fun on the beach – near the Big4 Bellarine

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Patting a goat at the Collingwood children’s farm

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Crazy fun

Yep – Cameron loves to have fun !   

Here’s just a FEW of the crazy pics I found of him – he’s a character – and always making us laugh – and himself too !

Watch out for “CORNETTO MAN !!”

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Harry Potter – and a crazy CAM…

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EVERY birthday party with cousins, Cameron gets the newspaper from the pass-the-parcel, and stuffs it in his t-shirt…    No-one ever told him about it – but it’s become his thing – LOL !

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Zombie !

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Face painted as another creature of the undead (I think !)

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After washing off the face paint – an impersonation of Ozzy Osbourne (?)

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Grim reaper dress-up for Halloween

There’s a recurring theme to these photos – LOL !

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He does a damn GOOD scary face !

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At the basketball – clapped out

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After a slurpee at 7-11 – blue tongue lizard

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Dance Party for New Years Eve

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And yep – sparklers to welcome 2015

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HOWZAT !!

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Happy 10th Birthday !

Welcome to double-figures buddy !

Run outta fingers – what will he do for ELEVEN ??

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With his new MIAMI HEAT cap – and a KANO computer !

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Happy Birthday from your brothers too…!

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Scored BIG on the cashola for his birthday !    (look how HAPPY he is too !)

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We love you matey – thanks for being such an awesome little guy – with incredible ideas, thoughts, dreams, goal and plans – love from Mum & Dad.    X

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